Immigrants

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on immigrant communities. Undocumented Latino immigrants and indigenous migrants are disproportionately impacted by disasters, due to racial discrimination, financial hardship, language barriers, and fear of deportation. It is also often the case that emergency response efforts overlook the needs of undocumented immigrants and indigenous migrants, relying on community-based organizations to provide critical services like linguistically appropriate information in indigenous tongues and Spanish and private disaster relief funds for those ineligible for federal programs. Immigrants, and particularly immigrant women, are also concentrated in hard-hit service industries such as retail trade, leisure, and hospitality. These workers face the loss of work without the usual unemployment benefits that are offered to unemployed workers.

“We’re not going wait for the federal government to get it together. As California and as a region, we are acknowledging that there is this gap and that we are going to be very intentional to close that gap. We’re establishing a statement, a purpose, that the disparities we’re seeing among immigrant communities is not acceptable, and that we’re going to fill in the investments necessary and [work on the] problematic infrastructure to reduce those disparities while the federal government figures it out. So, we’re saying that this is a community that’s part of the greater community, and even though federal funding may limit or prohibit certain immigrants of receiving support, that we’re just going to have to make up that difference.”

Miguel Santana

Committee for Greater LA

Impacts of COVID-19 on Immigrants in Los Angeles County

Prior to COVID-19, while immigrants had a generally high employment rate, they were also experiencing poverty, a condition that was only exacerbated by the pandemic. About one in five foreign-born workers and more than one in three undocumented workers experienced working poverty, meaning that even while working full-time they had a family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For immigrants, undergoing this pandemic while experiencing poverty or the loss of an income, necessities like paying for rent and buying groceries may not be feasible. Despite these disproportionate effects, undocumented immigrants are excluded from federal relief. In addition to employment and health challenges, transitioning to remote learning during this pandemic has been difficult for English Language learners and immigrant students who face technological barriers. Across Los Angeles County, one in three immigrant households is linguistically isolated, meaning no member age 14 or older speaks English at least “very well.”

In the focus groups that were conducted, immigrant Spanish speakers shared that they have less access to information and education related to the virus and a lack of experience and access to technology only furthers the problem. Challenges for these households lie ahead as children continue their education remotely. In March of 2020, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a congressional stimulus package, excluded undocumented individuals and mixed-status families from receiving a stimulus check aimed to provide economic relief.

For mixed status households filing taxes jointly, this means that even if one parent files taxes with a Social Security Number (SSN) and if the other parent files taxes with an Independent Tax Identification Number (ITIN)1 , this family is automatically barred from obtaining this aid. This means that across California over 2 million undocumented individuals are impacted and over 1.2 million households with at least one undocumented adult will be impacted.

Moving forward, Los Angeles County must commit to insure accessibility, mobility, and voice for immigrants regardless of status.

Home to over 10 million residents, Angeleno immigrants compose one third of the County’s population.

  • 25% 25%

%

Around 70 percent of undocumented and LPR Angelenos have been in the United States for longer than ten years.

  • 70% 70%

%

Angeleno immigrants make up around 46 percent of all workers in Los Angeles

  • 46% 46%

14 Immigration Policy Recommendations

The report puts forward 14 recommendations for policy and practical action.

Allocate disaster response funds for immediate economic support.

Increase access to capital for street vendors and small businesses.

Provide quality, accurate, multilingual, and culturally appropriate information to immigrants.

Support local health care clinics serving immigrant communities regardless of status.

Expand healthcare to all immigrants.

Integrate systems that serve immigrants into the same systems that serve citizens across all sectors, from mental health to public education, and beyond, and prioritize local funding streams.

Uplift the voices of underrepresented immigrant groups such as Black and indigenous immigrants.

Work to eliminate the usage of E-Verify for nongovernment businesses.

Increase wages, extend emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave, and implement stronger protections for immigrant workers.

Expand universal Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and CalFresh to immigrants regardless of status.

Expand access to legal resources and representation.

Implement virtual local assistance centers for naturalization.

Expanding voting opportunities to immigrants.

Implement De Facto county citizenship.

Our Streets Our Stories

“We have to work which is why we get sick. I’ve never asked the government for help but now I have to ask for help for my daughter’s college.”
Latino Focus Group Participant