Data on the immigrant status of parents are not collected uniformly across child welfare systems for a number of reasons. Immigration issues vary from State to State, and some States may not collect information about the immigrant status of families. States and organizations may have different definitions of 'immigrant,' making it hard to collect uniform data. Families also may be reluctant to report their immigrant status out of fear of government systems. While there are gaps in knowledge, national databases such as the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) provide some of what is known about these families. Find resources in this section to help child welfare workers better understand immigrant families, including statistics, strengths and challenges, and relevant law and policies.
- Strengths and challenges of immigrant families
- Immigration and child welfare laws and policies
Children in Harm's Way: Criminal Justice, Immigration Enforcement, and Child Welfare
Phillips, Cervantes, Lincroft, Dettlaff, & Bruce (Eds.) (2013)
Sentencing Project & First Focus
Includes articles written by leading scholars, policy analysts, and practitioners about a subgroup of children whose parents are affected by the interplay of the criminal justice, child welfare, and immigration enforcement systems.
Children of Immigrants Data Tool
Urban Institute (2012)
Provides searchable data related to the demographics of immigrant children, including child, parent, and family characteristics.
Children of Immigrants: Immigration Trends
Fortuny & Chaudry (2009)
Discusses the increase in population and characteristics of children of immigrants in the United States using data from the 2007 American Community Survey and other sources.
Data Across States: Children in Immigrant Families (Percent)—2018
KIDS COUNT (2018)
Estimates the percentage of children under age 18 who are foreign-born or reside with at least one foreign-born parent.
Detained or Deported: What About My Children?
Women’s Refugee Commission (2019)
Provides a toolkit for immigrant and undocumented parents on protecting their parental rights and navigating the child welfare and court systems. The resource also provides contact information for State child welfare agencies, Central America and Mexico child welfare agencies, and adoption reunion registries. The parental rights toolkit is available in English (PDF - 2,365 KB) and Spanish (PDF - 2,540 KB). A supplement document that addresses recent changes in relevant Federal and State policy is also available (PDF - 1,690 KB).
ICE ERO Detention Reporting and Information Line
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (2018)
Provides contact information for agency stakeholders who may have questions or concerns for the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). The site also provides links to download fliers on ERO's toll-free reporting and information line, 1-888-351-4024, in English (PDF - 571 KB) and Spanish (PDF - 1,178 KB). Call center representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST to handle questions and concerns regarding reports of human trafficking and other crimes, the separation of minor children from their families or other custodial issues, inquires from the general public and law enforcement officials, and more.
Latino Children of Immigrants in the Child Welfare System: Findings From the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (PDF - 427 KB)
Dettlaff & Earner (2010)
Migration and Child Welfare National Network
Presents findings from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) regarding Latino children of immigrants receiving child welfare services. Includes characteristics, risk factors, and types of maltreatment experienced by this population.
MPI Data Hub
Migration Policy Institute (2013)
Provides interactive research and data tools to analyze international and U.S. immigration trends and patterns, including data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Homeland Security on the numbers and characteristics of immigrant populations residing in and arriving to the United States.
Overview of Policies and Standards: Detained Parents and the Child Welfare System (PDF - 88 KB)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2020)
Presents policy and standards to address the apprehension, monitoring, and removal of certain parents or legal guardians in the United States who are not U.S. citizens or nationals while safeguarding their parental rights.
Policies and Procedures Involving Detained Parents and Legal Guardians (PDF - 282 KB)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2018)
Offers a factsheet on the policies and procedures when detaining parents and legal guardians of children, including placement, facilitating placement in family or State court proceedings, parent-child visitation, coordinating the care or travel of the child, call center information, and more. The factsheet is also available in Spanish (PDF - 141 KB).
Policy Number 11064.2: Detention and Removal of Alien Parents or Legal Guardians (PDF - 1,577 KB)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2017)
Provides guidance on the detention and removal of alien or undocumented parents or legal guardians of children involved in family court or child welfare proceedings, including information on coordinating children's care or travel, visitation requirements, and more.
Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010
Passel & Cohn (2011)
Pew Hispanic Center
Estimates the size and composition of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States and includes information on the status of children of unauthorized immigrants and on their parents' arrival timeframe and country of origin.