As we enter the month of June, when we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month, ALLvanza is recognizing the many economic, cultural and other countless contributions made by immigrants in the U.S. As a country of immigrants, people coming from other countries and enriching ours is a part of our country’s identity down to its DNA and truly what has allowed the U.S. to achieve greatness. Without the hard work, innovation, and other sacrifices and contributions of immigrants, our country would not be at the forefront of technological development and economic leadership to the extent we are in the global economy.
COVID-19 has taught us many things; many hard lessons. One positive lesson we can take away is the fact that Latino immigrants are essential to every industry and many immigrants find themselves on the dangerous frontlines of the war against this deadly virus. According to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute using 2018 census data, immigrants work in approximately 6.3 million of the toughest and most vulnerable jobs that are essential for fighting COVID-19. These jobs include health care, social services, pharmacies, manufacturing of food, medicine, cleaning products, and other essential functions. Without immigrants, many of these industries would collapse even more so than they have. Another consideration for our country to recognize and acknowledge during Immigrant Heritage Month, are the farmworkers who often are marginalized in our society. These brave and hardworking people labor tirelessly (and often thanklessly) in unsafe conditions, while at times enduring abuse at the hands of ICE agents and their employers. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of Latino farmworkers and they have rightfully been recognized as essential workers as they are feeding America during this pandemic and risking their own lives, not only with the virus, but also by working in unsafe conditions. These essential workers do the toughest jobs to ensure the food, and other products we all consume, continues to be produced and fills grocery store shelves and therefore should be recognized, respected, and appreciated.
In addition to working jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic and helping to keep our country running during this crisis, immigrants also contribute significantly to the wider economy. They start businesses at a higher rate than nonimmigrants which has kept our economy thriving (pandemic notwithstanding). Immigrants’ entrepreneurial spirit will also help our economy recover and therefore should be nurtured and supported. Further still, DACA recipients have contributed and continue to contribute to our economy as the vast majority of them, 97%, are in school or in the workforce in areas such as the medical field, technology and innovation, law, and engineering. They are becoming highly contributory members of our society. So even outside of the crucial role immigrants are playing in keeping our country fed and healthy, we must also take time to acknowledge the entrepreneurs and high-achievers within the immigrant population that will help us recover and thrive moving into the future.
While it is great to designate a month to recognizing the many contributions and sacrifices that immigrants make for the betterment of the U.S., they are making these contributions all 12 months of the year, every year since our nation’s founding. With that in mind, we must also ensure we treat our immigrant population with the dignity and respect they deserve. As a society, we cannot simply consume and benefit from our immigrant population without treating them with fairness and ensuring we acknowledge their place in our country of immigrants and give them and their children an opportunity to succeed and continue to help our collective country thrive.