RENO — Roughly one in four children born in Nevada in 2008 were to mothers who were not U.S. citizens, according to a new report.
Census Bureau officials said that 26.3 percent of children born in Nevada that year were to noncitizen mothers, second only to California, which had a rate of 29.1 percent, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Monday. The report did not distinguish whether the mothers were legal or illegal immigrants.
Education and health care officials were not surprised by the report.
In Washoe County, the school district has 11,243 students in English language programs, and 75 percent of them were born in the United States, said Mary Ann Robinson, district coordinator for the English Language Learner department.
Robinson said many schools have bilingual clerks and parent facilitators who are bilingual. There are bilingual aides in classrooms, and the school can hire translators so staff can talk with parents.
Health care representatives said noncitizen patients often lack health insurance, which puts a financial strain on providers.
Bill Welch, president of the Nevada Hospital Association, said in the past 18 months, four Southern Nevada hospitals have closed their obstetrics wards.
“We have other hospitals evaluating their OB services at this time based on the number of uninsured and underinsured patients presenting to deliver babies,” Welch said.
“This is a prime example of why Congress needs to pass immigration reform, so that noncitizens can become citizens,” said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “It shows the failure to act nationally is having a profound effect at the community level.” But, he added, they contribute to local economies.
“They pay their sales taxes…they pay property tax through their landlord or through the homes they own. They are paying into the system.
“Let’s not blame them for national immigration problems,” he said.