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New American Children: Supporting the Health and Well-being of Immigrant Populations

Fernando S. Mendoza, MD, MPH; Natalia K. Festa, BA
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(1):12-13. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.877.
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Although the United States identifies as a nation built on the human and social capital of immigrants, our current national discourse is not reflective of the centrality of immigrants to our society. Legislation, such as Arizona SB 1070, not only misconstrues immigrants as a societal burden but also creates an environment that undermines opportunities for all immigrant families to gain traction and achieve well-being within the context of our society. Children in immigrant families (CIF), 88% of whom are US citizens, are defined as those children residing in a household with at least one foreign-born parent. Children in immigrant families are not only the fastest growing subset of the US population but also the most susceptible to the collateral effects of immigration policy. Because CIF will come to represent an ever-increasing share of our educational institutions and national workforce, it is of great importance that these children follow a trajectory of healthful growth and development. By gaining awareness of the unique characteristics of immigrant households and the readily modifiable disparities that place CIF at risk of poor adult outcomes, pediatricians may exert a profound impact on these children.

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