Immigration and Covid-19

Updated on September 24, 2020 to feature the critical role of immigrants in mental health and counseling services. In the lead up to the election in November 2020, we’re also crunching the numbers on how this year’s electorate–both nationally and in individual states–is the most diverse in U.S. history.

As government officials, journalists, advocates, business leaders, essential workers, and concerned community members, we know that you are fighting to respond effectively and safely to the Covid-19 public health crisis. NAE is working to produce the latest estimates that show how immigrants are part of America’s fight and response to the Covid-19 health crisis.

We will be updating this page every week with new information on immigrants and Covid-19.

Have questions? Reach out to us anytime and we’ll get back to you right away: info@newamericaneconomy.org


Key Findings

  • All Healthcare Workers (16.5% immigrant)
  • Home Health Aides (36.5% immigrant)
  • Physicians (28.7%)
  • Personal Care Aides (25.1%)
  • Nursing Assistants (22.0%)
  • Surgeons (19.7%)
  • Registered Nurses (15.7%)
  • Respiratory Therapists (13.6%)
  • Psychiatrists (32.0%)* 

Read more in our research brief, Immigrants in Healthcare: Overview (April 6, 2020). *From the AMA Masterfile, 2015.

  • 1 in 5 Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides
  • 1 in 8 Registered Nurses
  • 1 in 5 Personal Care Aides

Read more in our research brief, Immigrants in Healthcare: Overview (April 6, 2020)

In 2018, there were almost 13.2 million immigrant essential workers in the United States. Together these essential workers make up almost half, or 48.3 percent of all employed immigrant workers in the country.  These essential jobs are also some of the most at-risk jobs there are—and many are disproportionately held by immigrants. At-risk jobs are those that put workers at increased exposure to infected individuals and the virus, including meat processing workers (34.7% immigrant) and taxi drivers and chauffeurs (45.2%), and food delivery workers (18.2%)

See more in our data interactive, Immigrants in At-Risk Jobs During the Coronavirus Outbreak (April 3, 2020)

  • All Food Sector Workers (21.6% immigrant)
  • Food Processing Workers (28.7%)
  • Agriculture Workers (27.6%)
  • Food Delivery Workers (18.2%) 
  • Grocery and Supermarket Workers (16.6%)

Read more in our research brief, Immigrant Workers in the Food Supply Chain (April 16, 2020)

  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing (24.8% immigrant)
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing (23.9%)

Read more in our research brief, Immigrant Workers in the Biomedical Industry (April 23, 2020)

  • 280,000 undocumented immigrants work in healthcare, including 62,600 who are DACA-eligible.
  • Nearly half of the almost 1.2 million DACA-eligible immigrants are essential workers.
  • DACA-eligible make up just 0.36% of the U.S. population but fully 1.7% of essential restaurant and food service workers.
  • In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, almost 1 in 3 food delivery workers are undocumented.

Read more in our research briefs, DACA-Eligible Immigrants in Healthcare and as Essential Workers (May 14, 2020) and Undocumented Workers in Healthcare (April 4, 2020)

  • In New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, immigrants make up over one-third of all healthcare workers.
  • In New Jersey, which has the second-largest number of confirmed cases in the country,  immigrants make up over half of all health aides
  • In California, the country’s top agricultural state, immigrants make up almost two-thirds of the agricultural workforce
  • In almost every one of the largest 15 metro areas, immigrants make up at least 20% of nurses, physicians, and surgeons

Read more localized findings in our research briefs, Immigrants in Healthcare: State-Level Data (April 9, 2020), Immigrants in Healthcare: Metro-Level Data (April 16, 2020), and Immigrant Workers in the Food Supply Chain (April 16, 2020)

NAE’s Covid-19 Research

Covid-19 Response Tracker

Local Organizations Supporting Immigrants

About Us

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…