Children of undocumented immigrants may struggle more to achieve academic success than children of legalized immigrants, according to a recent study about the effects of legalization on education — perhaps the hottest topic concerning the U.S. educational system in the last decade.
Researchers at the University of California-Irvine conducted a survey in the Los Angeles area to uncover links between educational success of various immigrant populations and their respective statuses of residency and naturalization.
Consequently, they discovered academic deficiencies among children of undocumented Mexican immigrants compared to children of legalized counterparts. Particularly, they found that children of undocumented immigrants averaged 11 years of education, compared with nearly 13 years for children of legal immigrants.
They also found evidence that suggests paths to legalization improve a student’s performance in the classroom.
The results supply evidence for a theory, known as “delayed incorporation,” that focuses on the hesitation of undocumented immigrants to assimilate based on their belief that their stay will be short term.
As a result of the theory and the study’s outcomes, the researchers stressed the importance of public policies that open paths for legal residency for Mexican immigrant populations.
“The fact especially that the force of legal status appears to exert its own positive effect on second generation education implies that the failure to provide pathways to legalization risks the development of an expanding underclass of unauthorized entrants,” the study said.
The researchers attribute the historical gap in academic achievement among Mexican immigrants to the historically prolonged procedure in which they are able to achieve legalized residency.