Factors Affecting Educational Success of the Children of Immigrants

Education is a key aspect of assimilation into the American mainstream. It has been long believed that America’s K-12 education has been the key for upward mobility of children of immigrants (). This was the case during the nineteenth century, as the white European immigrants were expected to “move ahead” and get “Americanized”  through the public school system; which they did, as they were largely absorbed into the nation’s major social and political institutions within a couple of generations and became upwardly mobile over time” (). Although this “linear model” of assimilation was successful—largely due to educational success—for the European wave of immigrants in the nineteenth century, the model is not applicable to the current children of immigrants due to many factors such as language, stereotypes based on educational success of older generations, and socioeconomic status.

Language is an enormous factor of educational success. In the United States, it is virtually impossible to finish school without knowledge of English. Many extremely intelligent children of immigrants fail to have any success in school simply because they do not know the language. Mexican immigrants are especially notorious for poor educational attainment; only 39.8 percent of Mexican born men have a high school diploma (Batalova 2008). Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are not proficient in English, as almost 75 percent of Mexican immigrants reported speaking English less than very well (Batalova 2008). Although these statistics largely represent Mexican born adult immigrants, the mere fact that the children of these immigrants will have parents who cannot speak English can threaten to hinder their English development. Language is not the only factor that can affect educational success; the educational success of prior generations can also play a tremendous role in the educational success of current children of immigrants.

The educational success of prior generations is an extremely important determinant of the educational success of current generations for numerous reasons; especially the stereotypes developed by native citizens; society will naturally develop stereotypes based on their first impressions. If an older generation of an immigrant group comes to America and rapidly achieves educational success, the later generations will most likely obtain benefits from society due to the positive impression made by the older generation. This is very evident today as for many generations; Asian immigrants have gained a reputation to strive academically. Due to this reputation, educational institutions will make greater investments in Asian immigrants than they would for Mexican immigrants; who suffer from stereotypes of low educational attainment; stereotypes that were developed based on the low economic success of earlier generations of Mexican immigrants (Crosnoe 2011).

Socioeconomic status is also a tremendous factor concerning education attainment for immigrant children. It is significantly harder for children of immigrants with low socioeconomic status to be successful educationally for many reasons. Firstly, low socioeconomic status increases stress and increases the possibility of distractions. Low socioeconomic status also increases the possibility that the children will have to drop out of school and get jobs (very low wage jobs due to little to no educational attainment) to help support their families. This continues to negatively affect numerous immigrant children as they feel as though they have no choice but to abandon their educational careers in order to help their families survive.

Educational success of children of immigrants is a very complex subject that is based on numerous factors. Knowledge of the English language, stereotypes based on educational success of older generations, and socioeconomic status are just three of many other factors that affect the educational outcomes of different immigrant groups.


Batalova, Jeanne. Apr. 2008. “Migration Information Source – Mexican Immigrants in the United States.” The Migration Information Source. <http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=679>.

Crosnoe, Robert, and Ruth N. Lopez Turley. 2011. K-12 Educational Outcomes of Immigrant Youth. Rep. 1st ed. Vol. 21.

Human Rights Violations Along the Border

Illegal immigration is a significant issue in the United States. There are over 11.5 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, and many continue to enter the United States (Preston 2011). This tremendous flow of immigrants is monitored and regulated by the United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The CBP prides itself on being “the guardians of our nation’s borders” and puts strong emphasis on the importance of Integrity: “integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles. Our actions bring honor to ourselves and our agency.” Although the CBP claims to give to integrity, there have been numerous instances of violence and mistreatment of immigrants by border patrol officers and the number of reported cases of misconduct continues to increase rapidly.

The Obama Administration's $600 million border security bill resulted in heightened security and increased enforcement personnel along the border.

The rapid increase of reported misconduct of Border Patrol officers is largely attributed to the rapid size increase of the CBP itself. In 2010, Obama signed a $600 million border security bill which resulted in strengthened armed patrol and a rapid increase of border patrol officers, as 1,500 enforcement personnel were sent to the U.S-Mexico border alone (Huey-Burns 2010). Due to this enormous enlargement, many poorly trained, inexperienced, and immature officers have been called to duty. Compounding the problem, there is very little supervision, and few to no inspections of Border Patrol powers. Although these officers are assigned to patrol the border, they are accountable only to the federal government, which is rapidly increasing their ranks (Hing 2010). This is a tremendous problem because these inexperienced officers are generally the ones responsible for the misconduct and mistreatment of many immigrants. Due to the lack of supervision–as well as the unfortunate circumstances of these immigrants, such as lacking legal status, heading to jail or deportation, small voice, and practically no rights–many of these officers believe that they can mistreat the immigrants without consequence. Although some of border police have been caught and convicted for their crimes, many do get away with their crimes, which in some cases results in severe injury or death, such was the case of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas.

Anastacio Hernandez Rojas

Anastacio Hernandez Rojas was an undocumented immigrant who was in the process of being deported from the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. When Anastacio resisted, he was repeatedly shot by a Taser stun gun. According to NBC San Diego, the entire confrontation was witnessed and recorded on a cell phone by Humberto Navarrete. According to Navarrete, “I was on my way to Tijuana. One of the uniformed agents had a knee on his back; another agent had his other knee on the back of his neck.” Navarrete proceeded to ask a nearby U.S. agent why they were using such “excessive force” and the agent replied that Anastacio was not cooperating. The border patrol officers then tazed Anastacio and according to Navarrete, “On the fifth discharge, we couldn’t hear Anastacio yelling anymore.” Hernandez later died of a heart attack; he was only 42 years old. This blatant display of injustice was immediately followed by numerous protests and rallies by many immigrant rights groups, as well as the Mexican government (Payton 2012). Five days after the incident, Hernandez died. His death was deemed a homicide; hypertension and methamphetamine use were the main causes of his death.

The unfortunate case of Anastacio is just one of many instances of the injustices that occur within Border Patrol. Many awareness groups have been working tirelessly to increase the public’s awareness to the terrible crimes committed by border patrol officers. Music artists, such as Emilio Rojas (a half Venezuelan, half Caucasian rapper), have also raised awareness about this issue; releasing numerous songs—such as Right to Stay—exposing the abuse that thousands of illegal immigrants suffer every year. Hopefully, public awareness of this issue will begin to pressure the government to address this problem, and the injustices within the Border Patrol will begin to diminish, and eventually disappear entirely.


“CBP Mission Statement and Core Values – CBP.gov.” CBP Mission Statement and Core        Values – CBP.gov. Web. <http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/about/mission/guardians.xml>.

Hing, Juilanne. “As Border Patrol Expands, So Do Reports of Misconduct – COLORLINES.” <http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/09/as_border_patrol_expands_so_do_reports_of_misconduct.html>.

Huey-Burns, Caitlin. 12 Aug. 2010. “Senate Passes $600 Million Border Security Package.” US News. U.S.News & World Report,  <http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2010/08/12/senate-passes-600-million-border-security-package>.

“Illegal Immigrant Taser Death Ruled a Homicide.” 2 June 2010. NBC San Diego.  <http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Illegal-Immigrant-Taser-Death-Ruled-a-Homicide–95449094.html>.

Payton, Mari. 3 May 2012. “Vigil Planned for Alleged Border Brutality Victim.” NBC San Diego. <http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Vigil-Planned-for-Victim-of-Alleged-Border-Brutality–150043435.html>.

Preston, Julia. 2 Feb. 2011.  “11.2 Million Illegal Immigrants in U.S. in 2010, Report Says; No Change From ’09.” The New York Times