The Fragile Financial Stability of Immigrant Households in Light of COVID-19

Guillermo Cantor, Lebaron Sims & Simone Robbennolt
Date of Publication: 
July, 2020
Source Organization: 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.’s seven million low- and moderate-income (LMI) immigrant households and over eight million LMI immigrant workers were disproportionately impacted by the resulting financial shock, many suffering job or income loss, food insecurity, missed rent or mortgage payments and avoidance of medical expenses. “The Fragile Financial Stability of Immigrant Households in Light of COVID-19," published by Prosperity Now, uncovers the structural barriers in the U.S. economic and social system that have made immigrant households especially vulnerable to financial instability during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession. The brief lists the following reasons why LMI immigrant households were more likely to suffer from financial instability during the pandemic: foreign-born workers tend to be concentrated in industries that pay lower wages and were harder-hit by the pandemic and economic crisis; immigrants have limited access to social safety nets; non-citizen households are less likely to have sufficient savings; immigrants have limited access to high-quality credit; and immigrants tend to live in economically- and racially-segregated neighborhoods, preventing them from accessing high quality and diverse social networks. The federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, notably the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, excluded a large portion of the immigrant population, forcing LMI immigrants to either protect their families from COVID-19 by staying home and risking loss of their jobs, or going to work and putting themselves, their families and their communities at risk of infection. The authors argue the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the U.S.’s exclusion of many immigrants from accessing financial and social safety nets is unethical and unsustainable. To maintain and strengthen the economy, and to protect the health of the entire population, the government must regularize the status of immigrants and grant them access to social safety nets. (Jillian DiPersio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Cantor, G., Sims, L. & Robbennolt, S. (2020, July). Improving the U.S. Immigration System in the First Year of the Biden Administration. Center for Migration Studies.,missed%20rent%20or%20mortgage%20payments