A recent study published in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine finds that immigrant children are less likely to be physically active than their native-born peers. Close to 20 percent of foreign-born children get no physical exercise and 56 percent do not participate in organized sports. The results vary significantly among ethnic groups. Among Hispanic children, 23 percent were physically inactive and approximately 67 percent did not participate in sports and the study found that the adjusted odds of physical inactivity and lack of sports participation were each two times higher for immigrant-Hispanic children with foreign-born parents compared with native-born white children.
The authors point to the fact that immigrant families tend to be poorer and live in communities that are less safe to explain the disparity in exercise. A more fundamental conclusion is that inadequate exercise among immigrant children is a symptom of mass immigration. Because immigrant workers who have very little education must work long hours to make ends meet, their children do not receive the attention that is so critical to their development. Exacerbating this problem is the isolation that often accompanies economically and socially alienated immigrant families who are trying to acculturate to our increasingly atomized, modern society. The more under-skilled workers we allow in, the more competition these workers face and the worse this trend becomes.
A few years ago, the Washington Post ran a story on the increasing number of alingual immigrant students in English-as-a-second-language classes. The piece cited numerous anecdotes about school-age children who could not communicate in either Spanish or English. As Mark Krikorian points out, this phenomenon is:
. . . not because these children are inherently unintelligent, but because they have so little interaction with their parents or any other adults; the parents have very little education and work multiple jobs at very low wages (you know, "jobs Americans won't do"), so the children spend most of their time parked by babysitters in front of the television.
Here at the Center, while we are critical of mass immigration we sincerely state that our vision is a pro-immigrant one. This is not rhetoric. Our federal government's current policy results in pathologies that have real-life consequences.