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Study: Children of illegal immigrants often not doing much better than parents

Updated: July 26, 2011 2:09AM

Illegal immigrants who come to the United States in the hope of giving their children a better chance at life often see those kids doing the same kind of low-paying, menial jobs they themselves do, a new University of Chicago study has found.

“This is a population of young people who, because of their legal integration through the school system, learned to work hard and pursue the American dream,” said University of Chicago assistant professor Roberto G. Gonzales, the author of the study. “Many of them grew up believing that being able to speak English and having an education should be able to get them more than their parents.”

Gonzales interviewed 150 undocumented young adults, most of Mexican origin, who came to the United States before their 12th birthday.

Gonzales found that many young adults became frustrated and stigmatized, after realizing they needed to verify their immigration status or Social Security number before applying for a part-time job or admission to college.

The results of the study will appear in the August issue of American Sociological Review.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded the study.

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