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HPPR People & Communities

Report: Over 30 Percent Of Texas Children Have An Immigrant Parent

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Some 2.4 million Texas children have at least one immigrant parent, according to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation using 2016 data. That’s compared to a total 7.7 million children in Texas. 

The report follows another Kaiser study on how harsher immigration policies and increased anti-immigrant rhetoric affects the health of children with an immigrant parent. Pediatricians from around the United States, including Texas, were interviewed. 

Samantha Artiga, an analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the fear a parent could be deported or lose their protected status has both long-term and short-term effects on children and their well-being.

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“You might see behavioral issues, you might see psychosomatic symptoms like unexplained headaches and stomach aches, increased mental health issues like depression and anxiety,” Artiga said. 

The ongoing stress of worrying about an immigrant parent can also lead to health problems later in life, said Artiga. 

“There’s a lot of research that shows that this can have long-term effects on their physical and mental health outcomes over their lifespan, so increased rates of chronic disease lasting into adulthood.”

The report also showed that nearly half of Texas children with an immigrant parent (1.1 million) rely on either CHIP or Medicaid health coverage. 

Changes to public charge policies have been proposed by the Trump administration that would affect immigrant parents with children enrolled in CHIP and Medicaid. The propose

d measures would make it easier to deny an immigrant lawful permanent residence if their child enrolled in these programs. 

Of the 20 million children nationwide that have an immigrant parent, 13 percent live in Texas. 

Copyright 2018 Houston Public Media News 88.7