New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with the City of Brownsville highlights how immigrants are both essential to the city’s rapid response efforts and especially vulnerable due to gaps in our federal relief package, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work.
Key findings from this report include:
- Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Cameron County functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up 23.9 percent of the county’s residents in 2018, immigrants comprise 34.1 percent of all food sector workers and 30.1 percent of all healthcare workers in Cameron County.
- Immigrants play an important role in Cameron County as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 72.4 percent of business owners in construction and over 63 percent of business owners in general services, including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops.
- Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, 53.1 percent of immigrants, or 53,473, living in Cameron County had limited English language proficiency. The top language spoken at home other than English was Spanish (99.2 percent).
- Access to healthcare and medical services remains critical during this pandemic. Over 48 percent of immigrants, or 48,761, were living in Cameron County without health insurance in 2018.
The City of Brownsville is one of twelve communities that received NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. Brownsville’s customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of Cameron County’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.