Essential and Invisible: The Urgent Case for Supporting Immigrant Essential Workers

By Rocio Perez and Adewale Maye

Essential workers have been inadequately supported, underappreciated, and undervalued in their pivotal role in supporting the United States during the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. While many people had the privilege to stay home and telework, millions of essential workers—including countless immigrant workers—continued to go to work while risking their health and the health of their families. Immigrant workers and workers of color—disproportionately represented among essential workers and in jobs paying low wages—have kept us fed, cared for us, and allowed us to meet our basic needs. Despite their central role in our economy and society, many essential workers lack the basic health and safety protections, job benefits, and family-sustaining wages that allow them to prosper and care for themselves and their families. For immigrant essential workers, these barriers to economic security are much more pronounced.

This report highlights key barriers faced by immigrant essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and advocates for an equitable economic recovery that implements policies that improve the conditions and circumstances of low wage work and advance economic opportunity through a pathway to citizenship.

Download the report here.