Education Researchers Baffled by “Immigrant Paradox”

By Leticia Miranda Oct 21, 2009

A recent study found that, according to the LA Times:

Pregnant Latino women smoke and drink less than pregnant white and African American women, Latino newborns have lower infant mortality rates, and the cognitive skill of infants 9 to 15 months are about equal for white and Latino children. But by the time they are toddlers, Latino children trail their white counterparts by up to six months in understanding words, speaking in more complex sentences and performing such simple tasks as assembling puzzles.

A group of UCLA researchers are trying to figure out the "immigrant paradox," as they call it. I would call it the why-researchers-don’t-think-about-the-economic-and-political-barriers-of-the-communities-they’re-studying-and-stop-blaming-our-families paradox. But that isn’t as savvy and easy to drop into media interviews as "immigrant paradox." They point to large Latino families saying that with larger families, children’s needs are sometimes ignored. They also point to Latinas overall low education saying mothers who are more educated tend to spend more time reading with their kids. Right, so all Latinas need to do is: find the personal will to go to their local health clinic, get support to use birth control and condoms right after they flash their insurance card. According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health:

Latinas have the highest rate of uninsured amongst all women in the US: 38% of Latinas are uninsured compared to 13% of white women. Approximately 12% of Latinas use Medicaid for their health care needs, which limit access to abortion care under the Hyde Amendment.

And, have these researchers taken a look at adult education services here in the US? For a lot of Latina mamas, English is a second language. While some adults have the ability to make the time to go to early English language classes in the morning then begin a 10-hour work day, a lot of parents can’t do it because they can’t afford to lose time out on work, can’t afford the classes or have other more immediate priorities. Alice Kuo, UCLA assistant professor of pediatrics and co-author of the study, said to the LA Times:

Many Latino families don’t view themselves as their children’s first teachers, assigning that role to schools. The irony is that these families are seeking a better education for their children, but pressures to work and assimilate may hinder that goal.

How about they have pressure to work to pay rent, feed their kids and put clothes on their back. And assimilation? Please. Do I need to mention 287(g) again? Or the Minute Men? I welcome statistics that describe the barriers our communities face, but these UCLA researchers can keep their ignorant confusion over the "immigrant paradox" to themselves.