Undocumented workers and their families contributed more than $1.6 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018. This was while the Trump Administration launched it's Zero Tolerance policy on Immigration while undocumented neighbors buy groceries, pay taxes and support local businesses in economic activity that generates $190 billion in government revenue nationwide.
Undocumented immigrants disproportionately work in essential sectors and earn lower total wages compared to their US-born counterparts. A lot of them are in the food supply chain, groceries, meat packaging, manufacturing, transport, delivery, retail, housekeeping, maintenance, janitorial, farming, merchandising to name a few. COVID-19 infection rates for Latinxs are the highest of all ethnoracial groups in California and Los Angeles. California has one of the highest unemployment rates (over 30%) among the poorest and most vulnerable undocumented workers and their mixed-status family members (more than 5.3 million).
When these undocumented immigrants get sick with Covid-19, they cannot even claim for unemployment insurance. Deferred action protections and legal work authorization should be immediately granted to all essential workers3. The important role of undocumented workers in the economy provides a strong argument for a policy of legalization and a pathway to citizenship within a broader program of immigration reform.
“Undocumented workers are fundamental to our economy, especially during the pandemic when many of them are the essential workers who are keeping us fed, safe and healthy,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. “It would be only fair to recognize their contributions by including them in recovery efforts, and it is also clear that we cannot rebound from this crisis if we leave them behind.”
Most undocumented workers are employed on the front lines, earning less than their legalized counterparts despite sharing equal labor responsibilities and risks. They are also excluded from receiving financial assistance from federal, state, and local governments, even though they boost the economy through tax contributions and consumer spending and stimulate employment and local investment. The pandemic has revealed the important role undocumented workers play in keeping the economy afloat.
From the recent conclusions of our elections on the changing demographics of the different demographics and sectors, we know the major issues start from healthcare, race, economy, as well as the changing needs even in a particular culture. Our nation is still divided and still in need of healing but time is always takes precedence in this process. Yet to heal to start the process we need to recognize the disparities of the effects of the pandemic both on on the deaths, cases as well as those essential workers such as the essential workers whom a big part are the non-documented whom sometimes we don't hear about when we talked about essential workers on Covid-19.
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