On the Front Line of Virtually Every Indispensable Sector of Our Economy
Immigrants always play an essential role in our economy and society. But during the COVID-19 pandemic containment and response effort, immigrants’ contributions are ever more indispensable.
Below are excerpts of voices, findings and commentary exposing the fact that the Trump administration’s xenophobia and cruelty is not only un-American, it’s detrimental to our nation’s ability to pull together and survive this pandemic.
- Boston Globe editorial, “To Defeat the Coronavirus, America Needs Immigrants”: The Globe editorial states, “Immigrants have been front-line warriors fighting the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, providing medical care, picking field crops, disinfecting buildings, and delivering food and groceries to your front door. In the same vein, these workers will be critical, once the pandemic abates, to kickstart a decimated economy — but only if the Trump administration drops its misguided attacks on undocumented workers.”
- In a USA Today story titled, “Undocumented Immigrants Working on Pandemic’s Front Lines Fear for Health and Home,” Richard Wolf profiles a series of DACA recipients serving on frontlines of COVID-19 efforts, including Houston paramedic Jesus Contreras, who “helped fight Hurricane Harvey in Houston three years ago, a monstrous storm that dumped 40 inches of rain and led to 17,000 rescues. The virus, he says, is a far bigger threat… ‘I’m not so much worried but precautious, hyper-aware of the amount of risk that my line of work brings,’ he says. ‘We’re not only going to have to worry about this pandemic, but we’re going to have to worry about our immigration status and deportation.’”
- Denisse Rojas, Co-founder of Pre-health Dreamers and a DACA recipient, said on an America’s Voice press call last Friday: “DACA recipients across the nation are on the front-lines of aiding those with COVID-19. At Pre-Health Dreamers, over 250 members are currently practicing as doctors, nurses, medical assistants and researchers providing care to those in need. These same community members are at risk of losing their ability to practice if the Supreme Court does away with DACA. We urge Congress to act on permanent legislation for our community immediately.” (A recording of the call is available here)
- Ciriac Isbeth Alvarez Valle, Policy Analyst for Voices for Utah Children and DACA recipient, said on an America’s Voice press call last Friday: “DACA recipients and immigrant families are being heavily impacted by this crisis as they are also losing their jobs and income and facing uncertainty without having the support they need to counter their losses. We need policies from national, state, and local levels that address these issues and the lack of support for health services for immigrants to ensure that everyone in our communities can move forward from this crisis.” (A recording of the call is available here)
- In a Wall Street Journal story titled, “U.S. Further Eases Curbs on Seasonal Worker Visas During Coronavirus,” Michelle Hackman quotes Dave Puglia, president of Western Growers, saying: “American farmers are dependent on guest workers from the H-2A program to harvest our crops, and American consumers are dependent on the food from these harvests for continued sustenance during the present crisis.”
- Migration Policy Institute, in a new report entitled, “Immigrant Workers: Vital to the U.S. COVID-19 Response, Disproportionately Vulnerable,” finds: “Six million immigrant workers are at the frontlines of keeping U.S. residents healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the foreign born represented 17 percent of the 156 million civilians working in 2018, they account for larger shares in coronavirus-response frontline occupations: 29 percent of all physicians and 38 percent of home health aides, for example. They also represent significant shares of workers cleaning hospital rooms, staffing grocery stores, and producing food.”
Additional Resources Highlighting the Essential Role of Immigrants
- DHS Watch statement and analysis, “Protecting America’s Health and Economic Security Relies on the Frontline Skill of Immigrant Workers”
- New American Economy, “Immigration and COVID-19”: NAE provides national and state-specific estimates of the share of immigrants in a range of relevant occupations, including healthcare and home health and agriculture.