University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Institute Professors’ Opinion Column Addresses Arizona

On June 2, the Arizona Daily Star published a public appeal from Stephen T. Russell and Andrea J. Romero to engage in “a rational, healthy dialogue so that we can find humane ways of addressing immigration reform — for the sake of the (state’s) children.”

According to the Arizona Department of Education, 41% of children in Arizona schools are Latino. They and their families may be wrongly targeted, Russell and Romero wrote, in spite of the fact that 92% of Latino children in the U.S. are citizens, according to the National Council of La Raza. Arizona has a duty to ensure the safety and health of its children, they said, “meaningful reform must consider the dignity and complexity of family life, and the health and safety of children.”

Dr. Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families and Dr. Romero, an associate professor of family studies and human development; and Mexican-American and raza studies at the UA, said that “meaningful reform must consider the dignity and complexity of family life, and the health and safety of children.”

The editorial attracted almost 200 quick responses from newspaper readers, both for and against the law. “What does all of this mean for children and families?” they asked. “This emotionally charged law is already having negative impacts on children and parents on all sides of the immigration debate.”

Tucson is less than an hour from some of the most controversial sections of the United States border with Mexico, and it is defined by the cultures of both countries, they said. “Our research shows that discrimination and prejudice are already pervasive, insidious, negative influences on the health of children. It also shows that perceived lack of safety is associated with children's worsening mental and physical health, and poor school performance.”

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