Journal Issue: Immigrant Children Volume 21 Number 1 Spring 2011
The increasing role that immigrants and their children, especially those from Latin America, are playing in American society, Sandy Baum and Stella Flores argue, makes it essential that as many young newcomers as possible enroll and succeed in postsecondary education.
Immigrant youths from some countries find the doors to the nation's colleges wide open. But other groups, such as those from Latin America, Laos, and Cambodia, often fail to get a postsecondary education. Immigration status itself is not a hindrance. The characteristics of the immigrants, such as their country of origin, race, and parental socioeconomic status, in addition to the communities, schools, and legal barriers that greet them in the United States, explain most of that variation.
Postsecondary attainment rates of young people who come from low-income households and, regardless of income or immigration status, whose parents have no college experience are low across the board. Exacerbating the financial constraints is the reality that low-income students and those whose parents have little education are frequently ill prepared academically to succeed in college.
The sharp rise in demand for skilled labor over the past few decades has made it more urgent than ever to provide access to postsecondary education for all. And policy solutions, say the authors, require researchers to better understand the differences among immigrant groups.
Removing barriers to education and to employment opportunities for undocumented students poses political, not conceptual, problems. Providing adequate funding for postsecondary education through low tuition and grant aid is also straightforward, if not easy to accomplish. Assuring that Mexican immigrants and others who grow up in low-income communities have the opportunity to prepare themselves academically for college is more challenging. Policies to improve the elementary and secondary school experiences of all children are key to improving the postsecondary success of all.