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A variety of migration trends over the last decade have raised the profile of recently arrived immigrant children as a distinct population in U.S. schools, one with unique characteristics and educational needs. This includes the sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving in the United States since the mid-2010s. At the same time, recent immigrant students are a highly diverse population and also include, for example, children of high-skilled workers and resettled refugees.
Data on recently arrived immigrant children and youth are relatively difficult to access, in part because school systems tend to focus on immigrant-background students through the lens of their English proficiency level. Yet the dearth of information on immigrant students as a distinct group can hinder educators’ and policymakers’ efforts to improve instruction and services for new arrivals.
This fact sheet analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Census Bureau to illuminate the characteristics of recently arrived immigrant children, compared to longer-residing immigrant children, native-born children of immigrants, and U.S.-born children with U.S.-born parents. It considers topics such as their geographic distribution, language use, and school enrollment and completion, as well as characteristics of the households in which they live.