COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and Immigrant Communities

October 2022: We launched this site in October 2020 and the past two years have only reaffirmed what we already knew - that communities of color persistently face stark social and economic inequities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought these realities to the forefront, as immigrants, who are often people of color, continued to face higher rates of disease and death, while also comprising a larger share of the “essential” workforce that sustained the state while more privileged workers stayed home, as shown by the charts below. In addition, the digital divide became even more stark, as some young students sat outside of businesses to log into classrooms and seniors experienced isolation and challenges accessing services, as well as information online. Researchers also found that Californians living in neighborhoods already impacted by higher levels of pollution – and more likely to be Latinx and low-income -- were at higher risk for COVID-19 infections. At the same time, immigrants also composed a large share of those impacted by pandemic unemployment and those that had limited access to relief.

Despite this challenging landscape, after immigrants and advocates implored the state to do more, California provided relief to some immigrants. Further, mutual aid efforts and community organizations statewide stepped up and continue to provide essential services, including  connecting immigrant families to safety net programs. First-of-its kind efforts such as the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, have also now established the infrastructure for the state to quickly mobilize to respond to future crises. The data and resources on this page provide insight on how California’s immigrants were, and continue to be, impacted by this global crisis, pointing to the work that lies ahead to ensure a safe, healthy, and equitable future for all.

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