BUILD Initiative Blog | Immigration Reform: A Win for Children
Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILDing Strong Foundations

BUILD Initiative Blog



Miriam Calderon, BUILD Special ProjectsMiriam Calderon, Consultant

BUILD Initiative Special Projects

As advocates for young children, we must view immigration reform for what it is – an enormous opportunity to pass social policy that’s good for kids. Fully one-quarter of all young children in the United States have an immigrant parent. Many have at least one parent that is unauthorized. These children will become America’s future leaders in a world economy that demands that they fully develop their skills and talents.

Emerging research by Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Jenya Kholoptseva suggests that having an unauthorized parent has a negative effect on a young child’s development. In particular, family separations brought about by deportations harm young children’s social and emotional development due to disruption in attachment and stress. In the first six months of 2011 alone, 46,000 children had a parent deported from the United States, according to Joanna Dreby in a Center for American Progress report.

Time for Reform

Immigration reform cleared a major hurdle in June 2013, when the Senate passed its bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744). The act includes numerous provisions to help families achieve stability, permanency, and relief from the fear of family separation. (Learn more about the act from the National Immigration Law Center’s S. 744 FAQ page.)

Quite literally, a new immigration law will allow immigrant families to come out of the shadows and seek opportunities to integrate and participate in civic life that many of us take for granted. This includes securing steady employment, getting a driver’s license, going back to school or participating in job training, and renting an apartment or buying a home.

Stability for Young Children

At Home

These changes will lead to stability for young children with immigrant parents, as they will benefit from increased economic security, less crowded and stable housing arrangements, and relief from the fear of losing a parent. Immigrant families will be unafraid to engage in their children’s schools, sign up for recreation programs, or enroll in early care and education programs. When parents feel they have to live in the shadows, it is difficult for them at the same time to promote their children’s full involvement in society.

In Child Care

In addition, many of the caregivers of immigrant children, who largely operate outside the mainstream child care system, will have the opportunity to adjust their status. They may choose to become part of the formal care system, if they have access to the appropriate supports and training that is tailored to their unique needs.

The Role for ECE Programs

Without question, these changes represent a new reality that will have an enormous impact on the healthy development of children of immigrants – and reduce disparities in their school readiness. The new immigration law will be complex, however. Leveraging this opportunity for children of immigrants, their families, and their caregivers requires the creation of a massive infrastructure in communities. Early care and education programs, particularly those with a dual generation focus, must be at the table and ready to serve immigrant communities.

These families will require services such as English language classes, financial literacy, job training, and help accessing public benefits for which they or their children may be eligible, such as child care subsidies or nutrition assistance. The complexity of the later cannot be overemphasized.

Immigrant families’ access to public benefits varies from state to state and by individual circumstances. Early childhood leaders must be informed about the intersections of immigration and early education policies in order to be effective at reaching immigrant families and providers.

What Are You Doing?

As advocates for young children, there is an imperative to prepare for and understand the implications of immigration reform on our field. This law will not only work to make our immigration system fair, it is one of the biggest wins for children on the horizon.

  • What are you doing to help get immigration reform passed?
  • And then, what will you do to help with implementation in your community?

Share your thoughts and ideas here.


An Additional Resource: The Migration Policy Institute


Showing 2 Comments

Swadseh 7 years ago

Kenny We used a law firm in Italy to represent us as this type of perimt is fairly new and has not been done too many times. Many states within Italy might not even be familiar with it, however it is a law now in effect since October 26, 2012. We obtained ours at the Questura (immigration police station) in Trento. It has also been successfully approved in Milan and a few other areas. Our attorney is with Mazzeschi Law Firm. They were a referal to me by Immigration Equality but by coincidence, they were also the immigration law firm that my employer was using to get me transferred here. You can start with them for extended advice. My attorney there was Giuditta Petrini and her email address is If you don't speak Italian, Ms. Petrini speaks excellent English. I highly recommend them. The fee's for our case ran about 1,100 euro. In order to qualify for the residency perimt, you must be legally married in a country that perimts same-sex marriages or in one of the 9 states plus Washington DC inside the U.S. There are a few other requirements that they can go over with you but the one thing that I was most pleased with was the fact that I did not have to apply for any type of Visa at a Italian Consulate inside the U.S. I entered Italy with just my U.S. passport and brought all of my documents with me. Once you have applied, and even before it's been approved, you would be given a receipt that becomes your temporary perimt of stay until a decision is rendered on your application. They told me to expect a 30 to 60 day wait for a decision but surprisingly it was approved in only 8 days. If you were married in the U.S., you marriage certificate would have to be translated and Apostiled from English to Italian by an approved translator at an Italian Consulate in the U.S. The certificates would then be taken to that consulate for the translation to be validated. There are other form that your partner would have to submit here in Italy as well but it's a relatively simple process.

Richard Garcia 7 years ago

I agree 100% that ECE has a major role to play to reduce disparities in the child's school readiness. The Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition that I founded and currently lead has a program called Providers Advancing School outcomes (PASO). This program is focused on training family, friend and neighbor childcare providers in providing quality care and education for the 0-5 age group. The CSPC works specificallt with the Latino immigrant FFN providers. Nationally 70% of children in non-parental custodial care are in unlicensed FFN care. One hundred percent of the ECE is discussion focused on the 30% of children that are in licensed child care settings. Our FFN providers recieve one year of intensive classes to help them transform their home care settings into rich stimulating learning centers. The Colorado PASO program is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Please contact Richard Garcia for more information.

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