Study Found Undocumented Workers Have Jobs Essential to Fighting the Pandemic

A pro-immigration reform organization recently released a study claiming that more than 65 percent of undocumented workers are working on what most consider to be essential jobs. The organization argues that while many have been praising the bravery and sacrifice by other essential and front-line workers, the plight of the undocumented worker is going unnoticed.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, essential and front-line workers, such as doctors and nurses, have been battling this deadly virus and trying to save as many people as possible. In addition, other essential workers have continued to go to work every day to ensure that those sheltering at home are able to still buy food and house supplies.

What Did the Study Find Out?

The study, conducted by the progressive organization, claims that a little more than five million essential workers are not U.S. citizens. The group is defining essential workers as those who work in either the medical, agricultural, or food service industries. The study does not break down the percentage of workers in each category, although it did break down the immigration status of all essential workers. There are currently more than 10 million naturalized U.S. citizens working as essential workers and a little more than six million permanent residents, according to the study.

The essential workers, particularly those working in hospitals and nursing homes, have been on the frontlines of the pandemic. They have run the risk of catching the virus every day or bringing it home and infecting their families and loved ones. Meanwhile those working in the agriculture industry have been continuously working to ensure that the supply lines do not falter. Those working in the food industry have kept restaurants partially open and supermarkets and liquor stores open to provide food and beverages for people.

The study is based on an analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is a supplement to the U.S. Census. Unlike the Census, which is administered to everyone in the country every 10 years, the ACS goes to only a few people once a month, every year. While the Census asks general questions, such as a person’s age, sex, location, and nation of origin, the ACS asks subjects about their occupation, education, internet access, and unemployment. While the former is a factor in determining the number of representatives, the latter provides a snapshot for how the people in this country are living their lives day-to-day.

Who are Essential Workers?

The numbers that the immigration advocacy organization arrive at might not be accurate considering there is still some debate as to what professionals constitute essential workers. While those working in the medical field are universally accepted, there are other categories that some argue are also working hard during this pandemic and putting themselves at greater risk.

Using a combination of the Department of Homeland Security definitions and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the Brookings Institute estimated that there are about 90 million essential workers serving in this country, with about 50 million working as front-line workers. Given the lack of a clear-cut definition as to what constitutes an essential worker, it makes it hard to determine who those policies would impact.

Unfortunately, given a lack of a consistent definition of what an essential worker means, there has been a lack of support for those workers and a lack of equipment. In the early days of the pandemic, when little was known about the virus or how it was transmitted, some of these businesses that remained open became hotspots for transmission.

With two viable vaccines now being distributed, essential and front-line workers are at the head of the line to receive it, given their increased importance to the nation. They have continued to face down the virus at continued risk to themselves and those around them. By receiving the vaccine in the early stages, it ensures that they will be able to continue the work that they have been doing, while not having to worry about the risks of catching COVID-19.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Girffin, P.C. Help Clients with All Types of Immigration Concerns

If you or someone you love is having problems as a result of your immigration status or you are in need of legal help on your route to becoming a U.S. citizen, reach out to the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. For an initial consultation, call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.