How COVID-19 is Affecting Immigrants this Fall

A CIANA Explains blog post from July examined the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York City immigrant communities, particularly on those undocumented. In this post, we take a deeper look into how these immigrant communities are faring as we enter the fall. 

Economic impact

Undocumented workers are essential to the U.S. economy, yet their unemployment rates and wages have been the most adversely affected by the recent economic devastation. A study published by the Center for an Urban Future found that 50% of New York’s undocumented immigrants have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Unable to receive government aid such as cash assistance, unemployment insurance, food stamps, rent subsidies, etc., unemployed undocumented immigrants are left especially vulnerable. More than 722,000 undocumented residents and their families did not recieve the $1,200 stimulus check due to their citizenship status. Furthermore, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s eviction moratorium extension did not cover the residences of undocumented individuals who did not qualify or were unable to apply for unemployment insurance. According to a UCLA study, the exclusion of undocumented individuals from the federal aid has resulted in a $10 billion loss in economic output. The neglect of undocumented individuals’ economic well-being is reason for serious public concern. 

For immigrants who remain employed, the fear of being fired due to the mandated 14-day quarantine can be equally stressful. Former employees of FDR Services, a company that cleans linens from New York City hospitals and nursing homes, came forward with stories of being fired after returning to work from COVID-19 mandated sick leave. There is an ongoing investigation into this particular case, but it does not seem to be isolated. As NYC has been slowly reopening, many undocumented individuals have been forced to choose between getting sick at work, or losing their jobs by staying healthy at home.