Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Conference - April 19-21, 2017       


            The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is sponsoring a two-day conference in Cambridge, MA under the title: Children of Immigrants in New Places of Settlement. The purpose of the event is to assess the state of knowledge about this general topic and identify the principal issues in need of future investigation as well as the policies required to address the most urgent needs of this population.

            To meet this goal, we are inviting a group of the most experienced and knowledgeable scholars in this area asking each to share their views, concerns, and priorities for the future. Topics to be covered include:

-- The demographic and social characteristics of immigrant families in new places of settlement in states of the Midwest and South.

-- The responses of receiving communities to the presence of this new foreign population.

-- The challenges to social and cultural integration faced by immigrant children and adolescents now living in these communities.

-- The linguistic and other barriers faced by immigrant children and youths as they enroll in school in these communities.

-- The academic performance of foreign-born and foreign-origin students in public schools of the Midwest and South and possible ways to improve it.

-- The role of community institutions – churches, voluntary associations, local governments, and police – in facilitating or hindering the integration of immigrant families and their children.

-- The characteristic of the co-ethnic population in new places of settlement and the extent to which it possess the necessary cohesiveness, organization, and resources to assist the adaptation of their young.

            As you know, immigrant children and children of immigrants are the fastest growing component of America’s young population, now comprising one-in-four of all persons aged 18 and younger. A wealth of information has accumulated by now on the sector of this population living in established cities of immigration such as Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. There is, however, much less valid knowledge about what happens to youths going to live in towns and rural areas of the South and Midwest, previously untouched by immigration.

            Scholarly attention to the flow of new migrants toward these states, overwhelmingly Mexicans and Central Americans, have focused primarily on adult immigrants rather than their children. Research on the Hispanic second generation in new places of settlement has come primarily from the field of education, with attention focused on the language barriers faced by this population and their low average academic performance. In official school parlance, second generation youths are commonly known as “ELLs” (English Language Learners) and their difficulties with English are defined as a learning disability.

            There is much less information on the broader social contexts receiving these youths: their social relationships and community involvement outside of school; and key features of psycho-social adaptation including aspirations, self-identities, and self-esteem. Participants will be asked to prepare brief statements, no more than 10-12 double-spaced pages, outlining their ideas, concerns, and priorities on the present condition of this young population. These papers will serve as the basis for discussions during our two-day conference.

            Representatives of foundations traditionally working in the fields of immigration and education such as Grant, MacArthur, Russell Sage, and Spencer as well as selected officials from the U.S. Department of Education will also be invited. The conference will take place at the Academy’s facilities in Cambridge, Massachusetts. By policy, the Academy does not pay honoraria to conference participants, but you can expect to be hosted in the fine style that has traditionally characterized AAAS public events. Discussion papers will be posted on the Academy’s webpages following the conference.

            Depending on the results of our deliberations, research and policy proposals can be prepared subsequently to address the principal issues identified during this conference. We hope that you accept our cordial invitation to participate in this event.

Conference Conclusion

Please read the full conclusion here.