State and Local Aid for Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Innovating Inclusion
During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant workers in the United States were overrepresented (74 percent of the foreign-born labor force) in essential sectors such as healthcare and food production and yet often lacked the social safety nets made available to citizens. In this way, argue Roberto Suro and Hannah Findling, the pandemic has highlighted the contradictory status of undocumented immigrants as “essential” yet “illegal,” and has prompted unprecedented involvement of state and local governments on immigration issues, especially when the federal government failed to provide relief. The Center for Migration Studies report State and Local Aid for Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Innovating Inclusion surveys these efforts to provide immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, with economic safety nets, healthcare access and the chance to work unimpeded during the pandemic. Some of the state and local policies highlighted in the report, often implemented in partnership with philanthropic groups or non-profits, include California’s extension of the earned income tax credit to immigrants with young children; Illinois’ Medicaid coverage for low-income seniors regardless of immigration status; governors’ executive orders waiving licensing requirements for foreign-educated healthcare workers; and “essential worker” letters on state government letterheads that empower employers to designate certain workers, including undocumented immigrants, as “essential” under federal guidelines. The authors argue these efforts, while limited in reach at the time of publication, represent significant experiments with the potential to spur broader immigration policy change.
Suro, R. & Findling, H. (2020, July 8). State and Local Aid for Immigrants during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Innovating Inclusion. Center for Migration Studies. https://cmsny.org/publications/state-local-aid-immigrants-covid-19-pandemic-innovating-inclusion/