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Conference will examine effects of new immigration policies on children’s health

The Child Health and Immigration Conference on May 25 will bring together Stanford researchers, policymakers and community leaders to discuss the effects of immigration policies on kids.

- By Nicole Feldman

Fernando Mendoza

The current spate of discussions surrounding immigration in the United States rarely address how the issue affects children’s health. But new policies being considered in Washington could damage the well-being of children with immigrant parents, according to a pediatric health expert at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“If you make them fearful on a day-to-day basis that their parents are going to be taken away, it causes tremendous stress on children and families,” said Fernando Mendoza, MD, professor of pediatrics.

Mendoza has gathered experts from throughout the nation to address these issues at the Child Health and Immigration Conference on May 25 on the Stanford campus. The panelists will discuss potential impacts at the federal, state and local level and advise communities on how to navigate the effects on children.

He noted that many immigrant families are feeling stress and concern in the current political climate, regardless of whether they have family members who are undocumented. According to a study at the Pew Research Center, one of every eight children in California has an undocumented parent.

“Policies that would remove those parents would probably be the biggest social disruption that we’ve seen in this country,” said Mendoza. “We need to have experts discuss these things so that we can have clarity about what the effects of national immigration policies might be.”

Immigration experts Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center, and Bill Hing, a professor of law at the University of San Francisco, will kick off the conference by outlining immigrant family demographics and the legal system for enforcing immigration policy.

They will be followed by panels of experts from Stanford and other academic institutions, policymakers and leaders in local health and educational systems.

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, will discuss congressional movement on immigration policy during a short video appearance. Lofgren is a former immigration attorney.

Mendoza said, “We all value children. This conference is trying to create common ground around that American value.”

The conference will take place in Encina Hall’s Bechtel Conference Center from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Registration is available online. The conference is free, but RSVPs must be received by 5 p.m. May 17.

The conference is sponsored by Stanford’s Division of General Pediatrics; the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention; and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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