All summer, presidential hopefuls have been stepping over each other to say ridiculous, demeaning things about immigrants. As ignorant and inaccurate as their perceptions are, this type of treatment isn’t new. Immigrants encounter offensive judgments probably every day. For their children, navigating this environment of insults, stereotypes, and low expectations can have long-lasting repercussions.
A new report by the Migration Policy Institute explores the psychological, social, and academic scars such ill-treatment leaves on immigrant kids. Here’s how the report summarizes its conclusions:
From the existing research, it is clear that immigrant children recognize discrimination from peers and teachers at least by middle childhood (around age 8), and at the institutional or societal level by adolescence. Discrimination affects the psychological well-being of immigrant children, their academic outcomes, and their social relationships.
Studies reviewed by the report’s author, Christina Spears Brown, present a grim picture of life at school for children of immigrants. Even in elementary school, kids report being insulted verbally, excluded from group activities, and being threatened and physically hurt by classmates because of their language, ethnicity, or immigrant status. The report quotes fourth-graders in Los Angeles, for example, who describe frequent racial name-calling.