AuthorHiggins, Maeve

It's been good to see children skipping their way to school this spring. My Brooklyn neighborhood had been too quiet in the mornings. They brought life back into the streets.

One day a small boy took a tumble and landed right at my feet. Instinctively, I went to pick him up, but froze as I remembered: We are in a pandemic and need to keep our distance.

The incident shook me; even kids are on their own in this. COVID-19 is no great equalizer; rather, it hits the most vulnerable first and worst. One often overlooked population is immigrant children.

Today, more than forty million people living in the United States, or about 14 percent of the population, were born in other countries. More than a million people typically arrive each year from all over the world. The top five nations of origin are Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, and El Salvador. Some 9 percent of the people in the United States age twenty-one or younger are foreign-born.

The population of these immigrant children is diverse. There are vast differences in culture, legal status, socioeconomic backgrounds, and language. However, immigrant children have some things in common; generally speaking, they cannot vote, work, or spend, rendering them effectively powerless in our late-stage capitalist state. It is also rare to see these children represented in the media, leaving them largely without a voice.

COVID-19, we know, disproportionately affects Black and brown people, due to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes to longstanding systemic health and social inequities. Significantly, COVID-19 also acts as a threat multiplier, meaning that those who are undocumented or poor or trapped in a violent home will likely have a worse experience.

The harm of COVID-19 to children goes beyond just contracting the virus and getting sick. As pediatrician Rachel Pearson wrote last year in The New Yorker, "I should also worry about children losing their parents or grandparents, missing meals, and falling behind in school. I should worry about kids whose learning disabilities will go undiagnosed without school screenings, LGBTQ+ teens trapped in unsafe homes, and children traumatized from witnessing domestic violence."

As well as the risks that could be faced by any child in the United States, immigrant children face extra challenges. Deportations of parents have continued unabated throughout the pandemic. Immigrant children living within the United States, from...

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