Press Release: 2020-07-31

Immigrant community survey shows COVID-19’s devastating health and economic impacts across Mass.

Immigrant community survey shows COVID-19’s devastating health and economic impacts across Mass.

BOSTON – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been clear that immigrant communities in Massachusetts, especially Black and Latinx immigrants, have felt both the health and the economic impacts particularly hard. As of July 29, for instance, Latinos accounted for 28.9% of confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2.3 times their share of the population.

Several immigrant-rich communities have become COVID-19 hotspots – most notably Chelsea, with more than five times the statewide infection rate, and Lawrence and Brockton, with triple the statewide rate. And as sectors that employ large numbers of immigrants, documented and undocumented, shut down and have struggled to reopen, joblessness has led to hunger, missed rent payments, and a high risk of displacement.

Aiming to better document the impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities, MIRA conducted a statewide survey through the month of July in English and 15 other languages, asking about employment status, work and commuting conditions, food and housing security, child care, and access to key safety-net programs. The 433 responses span the full range of citizenship and immigration statuses, with perspectives from Boston to Pittsfield, Lawrence to Seekonk. This is the first quantitative assessment of the pandemic’s impact on immigrants across Massachusetts.

Along with a presentation of the survey findings, this event will include a discussion of the data and their policy implications with U.S. Senate and House staff; Marty Martinez, Chief of Health & Human Services for the City of Boston; and immigrant community leaders.

“This survey shows that immigrants in Massachusetts are immensely resilient and resourceful, but many are facing impossible odds,” said Eva A. Millona, president and CEO of MIRA. “Jobs just aren’t coming back fast enough. Unpaid bills are stacking up. Without support from local food pantries, many families would be going hungry. And fear of immigration consequences is making some immigrants who sorely need help too afraid to seek it.

“We hope that policy-makers heed our urgent call to action. Immigrants are facing the same troubles as all working-class people right now, but Congress has denied many of them access to crucial safety-net programs and stimulus payments. We must have a fair, equitable and inclusive COVID-19 response, at both the federal and the state levels. It’s a matter of justice, and of human decency.”

The survey was made possible by a grant from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a nationwide network that MIRA is part of, to support advocacy for an inclusive federal COVID-19 package, such as the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. MIRA partnered with Agencia ALPHA, the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, the Brazilian Worker Center, the Chelsea Collaborative, the Immigrant Family Services Institute, and REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, all MIRA members, to ensure strong representation of Latinx, Haitian and Asian immigrants, with additional support from other MIRA members.