According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, from 2012-2016, there were 4,761,728 total births across the United States between natives and immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Of that 4.7 million people, 297,073 were born to undocumented immigrants. Arizona, for example, contributed to 9,430 of those births; Texas, the second largest state in America, contributed a whopping 50,791 births. These numbers are important to remember as we dive further into the challenges and struggles of undocumented birth mothers and their children in the United States.
What kind of stigma is related to undocumented birth mothers and their children?
Because giving birth to a child in the US automatically grants that child full citizenship, the stigma of moving to the US to have a child runs rampant with stereotypes about that family. Many may assume that undocumented birth mothers or families will have children in the US simply for the citizenship. However, that is not always the case. Many immigrants come to the United States seeking escape from violence, tyrannical government, or otherwise harmful conditions they face in their native country. Because the process of gaining full citizenship in America is extensive and may take anywhere from 10-13 years to attain, remaining undocumented may seem like the only attainable solution. Especially in the current worldly political climate, many birth moms seek refuge from the dangers they face back home.
What are some other challenges undocumented birth mothers face?
As represented in the statistics in the Census Bureau’s survey, nearly half of the undocumented births were to families in poverty. For example, of the 5,711 births to undocumented immigrants in Colorado, 43% were impoverished families. In Texas, that percentage was 49% – scarily close to being half of the undocumented immigrant birth population in Texas. Poverty levels could be due to a wide number of things, including lack of available resources, traveling expenses, unemployment/income levels, and lack of government help. Whatever the reason, almost half of most populations of birth mothers in the US support not only themselves, but their children, in a state of poverty.
What are ways in which we can be supportive of birth moms?
It is easy to say we want to change the way things are; the hard thing is deciding howto go about that change. Obviously, more legislation and laws supporting undocumented birth mothers and families are imperative, but that can be a daunting solution to tackle. Calling your representatives and discussing these issues with them could be a helpful first start – fighting for a shorter citizenship granting process could be beneficial as well. There are also little things you can do to help birth moms and their children. If you know an undocumented birth mom, try reaching out to her to see if she needs a babysitter on Tuesday, or if she’d like help with meal prepping for the week. Because some undocumented birth moms may speak another language, it could also be very helpful to try to learn their native language. Language barriers exist in so many spheres – we shouldn’t let this be one! These women have enough barriers against them to begin with, and language should be used as a tool to connect, communicate, and coordinate – not discriminate or isolate. Overall, advocating for undocumented birth moms and families could start very important conversations, advances, and changes for the better.