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Journal Issue: Children of Immigrant Families Volume 14 Number 2 Summer 2004

Growing Up American
Sonia M. Perez Ka Ying Yang Marian Wright Edelman James M. Jones


Children of immigrant families must confront the challenges of first understanding, and then negotiating, their place in American society. As generations of immigrants before, they often must deal with racial and economic prejudice as they struggle to create a new identity for themselves--rooted in their ancestry, but at the same time, seeking all the opportunity and promise this country has to offer. The articles in this section explore what it means to "grow up America" today from three different perspectives: a Latino perspective, a Southeast Asian perspective, and an economically- disadvantaged perspective.

In the first article, Pérez discusses the importance of education, health, and economic status in efforts to promote the future productivity and well-being of the growing numbers of Latino children in this country. She notes that the natio's economic and social prosperity will depend on how well Latino children are prepared to lead the country forward.

In the second article, Yang points out that while as a group, Asian Americans are doing quite well, children whose ancestors are from Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) continue to struggle with limited English skills, discrimination, miscommunication, and feelings of alienation. She urges policymakers to recognize that these children need attention and support to overcome their barriers to success.

In the third article, Edelman and Jones describe the growing gap between children who are rich and poor, and between children who are black, white, and Latino. They call on society to work collaboratively and strategically to ensure that all children, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have a safe passage to adulthood.

The Latino and Southeast Asian American children of immigrant families are a growing proportion of America's undereducated and poor. As they are also a growing proportion of America's workers and taxpayers of tomorrow, helping them to do well in school and achieve economic success should be a top national priority.