USA: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study

Not surprising:

More than two-thirds of undocumented immigrant workers have frontline jobs considered “essential” to the U.S. fight against Covid-19, according to a new study released Wednesday by pro-immigration reform group FWD.US.

Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the study, which is based on the 2019 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau. The study also estimated that nearly one in five essential workers is an immigrant.

By contrast, the Trump administration has argued that protecting American jobs against foreign workers is crucial to fixing the economic harm caused by Covid-19.

In April, Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to “ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.” In June, Trump extended the order through the end of the year.

Undocumented immigrants make up 11 percent of agriculture workers, 2 percent of healthcare workers and 6 percent of food services and production workers, the study estimated.

Elizabeth Valencia, 54, on Temporary Protected Status that allows some Salvadorans to work and live in the United States, said she was the only geriatric nursing assistant serving 28 Covid-19 positive residents at a nursing home in Maryland earlier this year after an outbreak affected the staff.

Valencia has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and has worked in the nursing home for almost 18 years, starting as cleaning staff before she trained to be a nursing assistant.

Valencia said all of her co-workers on the floor where she cares for dementia patients are immigrants.

“[The residents] cannot survive by themselves,” she said. “They need us.”

The study also found that 70 percent of the immigrants working in essential jobs have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years and 60 percent speak English.

Nearly one million of the essential workers are “Dreamers” protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the study found. Although DACA, enacted by former President Barack Obama, won a challenge by the Trump administration in a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, a new case in Texas could end the policy.

DACA recipient Jonathan Rodas works as an operating room assistant at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center while he is attending nursing school. Rodas and his entire household, including his undocumented stepfather, all tested positive for Covid-19 in July. They have now all fully recovered and no one was hospitalized.

But Rodas said he was especially worried about his stepfather needing to be hospitalized because he, like other undocumented immigrants, does not have health insurance. Rodas is now back to work. He said he is not surprised by the study that found one in five essential workers are immigrants.

“There’s not a lot of people out there who want to do that job because they’re scared of it,” Rodas said, talking about working in a hospital during a pandemic. “I’m scared of it. But I do it for the patient. The passion that I have to help people out.”

Source: Sixty-nine percent of undocumented immigrant workers have jobs “essential” to fighting Covid, says study

How Billionaire Techies Hope To Reshape The US Immigration Debate : NPR

Needed antidote to much of the rhetoric in the US, and a natural for the tech industry given their need for talent:

The immigration-reform advocacy group founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — (pronounced “forward U.S.”) — and funded by fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneurs including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer — is rolling out a plan for the 2016 election that will include “substantial” investments in battleground states.

This primary campaign season, the immigration conversation has been dominated by hard-line rhetoric about border walls, mass deportations and birthright citizenship, and now Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration ban. says it’s trying to refocus the conversation on comprehensive immigration reform.

“We are making the case over the next year that immigration reform needs to be something that gets done right away under the next presidency,” said
Todd Schulte, president of “That starts with making clear the awful and absurd policies of mass deportation that we’re hearing.” won’t be targeting a particular candidate. But with a focus on mass deportations, it’s clear one immediate target for these tech billionaires is a fellow billionaire — Donald Trump, and the immigration rhetoric his campaign has sparked this primary season.

“The stakes are incredibly high,” said Schulte. “Embracing this mass deportation agenda is absolutely toxic.”

Schulte said the rules of the game have changed since the 2014 midterms, and this election cycle, there’s a whole new side to the immigration debate. would not disclose its spending plans, but it is considered the most well-funded immigration reform group in the country.

In 2013 and 2014, spent $10 million on digital, radio, tv and cable advertising, according to a spokesman with the group. Schulte said the group intends to spend similar amounts of money this election cycle. Records indicate it also spent $1.3 million on lobbying activities in 2013 and 2014.

“One role that did is put a big voice out there on TV, with a serious amount of money behind it, to fill a void that otherwise exists on the campaign airwaves,” said Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks campaign ads with the research firm Kantar Media. “It’s not typical of something we’ve seen in the past,” she added. “It’s only fairly recently that business has made it their business to take a side.”

The group’s current mission this election season does not focus on huge ad expenditures; instead, is working on voter education through research, engagement and polling, with just one lofty goal in Schulte’s words: “Pass immigration reform right out of the gate under the next president, plain and simple.” launched in 2013 with a splash (and an estimated $50 million). It was considered an ambitious big-money venture with the potential to legitimately move the dial on comprehensive immigration policy overhaul.

“In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country,” Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed announcing the group. “A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.”

Source: How Billionaire Techies Hope To Reshape The Immigration Debate : NPR