Priority Populations

Hardship in Many Languages: Immigrant Families and Children in NYC

Banish the cliché of the upwardly-mobile immigrant. Even as immigration has reshaped the city’s population and redefined its character, the modern U.S. economy has left a high percentage of foreign-born New Yorkers to work in the most poorly paid jobs. Poverty is a longterm reality for very many working immigrants and their children.

This paper casts light on the intersection of poverty and English language ability among immigrants in New York City, and to energize discussion about social policies designed to assist low-income working people at a time when nearly two-fifths of the city’s population was born outside the United States. We highlight the academic research findings of the last two years regarding immigrant families and poverty, and examine aspects of the social support sector-food stamps, child care, neighborhood family services and other programs-and their difficult, often slow adaptation to serving newcomer families.