More than two years into the COVID-19 era, the United States has seen more than 1 million people die of the virus, and a sharp recession and uneven recovery that have caused hardship for many families. And while the pandemic has touched the lives of all U.S. residents, immigrants have been among the hardest hit. Understanding how the pandemic has reshaped U.S. immigration policies and levels, and how the pandemic and associated economic downturn and recovery have affected immigrant families, can guide better policymaking as the United States grapples with COVID-19's ongoing impacts and faces future public-health crises, natural disasters, and other emergencies.
This report takes a look back. It first details immigration policy changes the U.S. government made after the emergence of COVID-19 and the effect these policy changes and visa processing challenges have had on immigration levels to the United States. Next, it describes the essential roles that immigrant workers have played during the pandemic in health care and other fields, and early evidence on the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus on immigrants' health. Finally, the report describes the high unemployment rates foreign-born workers experienced during the pandemic, the limited access many noncitizens have had to the safety nets that many citizens have relied upon after losing jobs, and innovative approaches states, localities, and nonprofit organizations have used to support immigrant families.