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Thousands of refugees and asylum seekers come to the United States each year to escape humanitarian crises in their home countries. Some face hurdles to accessing services, including language barriers, incomplete documentation, and ineligibility for public programs. Immigrant families often face similar barriers while also fearing deportation or other unintended consequences if they seek help. Home visiting services can support refugee and immigrant families in engaging with others, coping with trauma, and accessing community resources and services. Access to services, in turn, may help offset concerns such as food and housing insecurity and negative health and educational outcomes.This brief produced spotlights five home visiting programs using innovative, strengths-based practices to reach and serve refugee, immigrant, migrant, and dual language learner families.
More than a quarter of US children have at least one immigrant parent, but researchers and policymakers often do not have adequate data on these children's experiences in school. Information on the languages students speak at home can provide perspective on students' experiences and takes communities' unique strengths and challenges into account. States must report data on languages spoken at home to the federal government each year, yet district-level data are rarely published.Home language data have untapped value, with far-reaching implications for instruction, student support services, and policy. Better and more public data on student background can enhance our understanding of students' experiences and provide nuanced information to educators, researchers, and policymakers to better serve distinct student subgroups. Publishing district-level home language data could inform education policy decisions, providing much-needed nuance to public education data systems.
Immigrants with disabilities face multiple structural challenges, including discrimination, socioeconomic disadvantage, and barriers to safety net access. However, limited research discusses the prevalence of disability among nonelderly adult immigrants and the characteristics of this population. Drawing on five-year estimates from the 2015 to 2019 American Community Survey, this brief provides a snapshot of select characteristics of nonelderly immigrants with disabilities ages 18 to 64. Overall, 5.6 percent of nonelderly immigrants have a disability. Disaggregation by race and ethnicity shows us that this prevalence is highest among nonelderly Black Latinx immigrants at 10.2 percent and lowest for non-Latinx Asian immigrants at 4.2 percent. Other key findings are as follows:Roughly 1 in 3 (35.3 percent) immigrants with disabilities has limited English proficiency.About 3 in 10 (30.7 percent) immigrants with disabilities are from Mexico.Nearly half (49.3 percent) of nonelderly immigrants with disabilities report having low family incomes (under 200 percent of the family federal poverty level).About four in 10 (41.4 percent) immigrants with disabilities are employed. Three in 10 (30.0 percent) immigrants with disabilities are working in service occupations, such as janitors and building cleaners, housekeeping cleaners, and personal care aides.One in 8 (12.7 percent) immigrants with disabilities reported receiving Supplemental Security Income in the 12 months before the survey.Three in 10 (30.3 percent) noncitizens report being uninsured at the time of the survey, while 1 in 10 (9.5 percent) naturalized citizens report being uninsured.The results presented in this brief can inform efforts to improve the well-being of immigrants with disabilities through strategies such as increased access to government public services, improvements in job access and quality, and development of community models to promote disability inclusion.
Although expanded unemployment insurance played a large role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions—most notably undocumented workers—were excluded from these benefits. The New York State Excluded Workers Fund (EWF) is the most notable example of legislation to address this gap. Passed in April 2021, the EWF approved 130,000 excluded workers to receive financial support that roughly equaled the average total amount unemployed workers eligible for unemployment compensation received, approximately $15,600 per person. To understand the experiences of workers who applied for EWF and of those that did not receive the fund, we conducted 15 interviews with workers in English, Spanish, Bangla, and Korean and 9 interviews with staff from community-based organizations serving various populations in New York and providing crucial application assistance.We found that those who received the fund were able to use it to make ends meet during a period of severe job loss bypaying back rent and other bills;repaying debt incurred during the pandemic;stabilizing or improving their housing conditions;paying for basic needs like food;investing in their children and education;taking care of their health and paying for medical expenses;stabilizing and expanding employment opportunities; andcreating local economic stimulus.We also found that the EWF had a significant impact on excluded worker recognition and their sense of power and dignity that comes from being treated as a valued member of society. We found that workers who applied but did not receive the fund because of difficulties providing the required documentation faced continuing stress around unstable income, debt burden, and other dire circumstances.Overall, New York State Department of Labor quickly and effectively adopted the EWF, but ultimately the fund ran out of money more quickly than anticipated. Although the fund was a high-impact intervention for those who benefitted, it has not provided solutions to the ongoing instability that accompanies a lack of lawful permanent status in the US.
This case summary conducted by the Urban Institute and Sapna NYC, a community-based organization serving low-income Bangladeshi women through health and empowerment programs, explores the findings of a community needs assessment focused on the mental health challenges and needs of Bangladeshi immigrant women living in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn and can help inform practice and policy in New York City. Data from our interviews indicated that the three major contributing factors to the mental health of women in our study were economic and financial insecurity, home life and social networks, and traumatic events. Based on these insights, we propose recommendations for policymakers and funders to better support the mental health of vulnerable and immigrant communities.
Foregrounding race and racism in immigration research is a critical priority because the majority of immigrants in the US are people of color, and conceptions of race intersect with the lived experiences of immigrant communities at multiple levels. Historical and structural racism have also shaped immigration policies and other policies that lead to disparities in outcomes. Yet the intersections between the US immigration system and racism have been neglected in both policy and policy research circles. This is critical for understanding the experiences of all immigrants of color and their descendants, including Latino immigrants, whose identities have been racialized, as well as Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and other immigrants who have received less attention in policy research but constitute a rising share of new immigrant arrivals. These issues were explored in a September 2021 virtual workshop on centering race and structural racism in immigration policy research that convened leaders in policy research and advocacy. Discussions focused on how race and structural racism influence the experiences of immigrants, who policy research has left out, and which policies and issues demand research attention. In addition, the discussion explored how immigration policy researchers can work with community partners and address data limitations. This brief provides key priorities and themes discussed during the workshop and identifies promising practices, ideas, and considerations for better addressing the intersections between immigration, race, and structural racism in policy-oriented research.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropic entities across the US embraced giving directly—transferring cash to people—as an effective and efficient means of providing relief to those hit hard by the sudden economic and health emergency. Since the onset of the pandemic and in partnership with donors, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has facilitated the administration of approximately $26 million in funds, distributed in increments of $50 to $2,500 to approximately 60,000 residents across the Greater Washington, DC, region. This report describes the goals, strategies, and short-term achievements of the foundation and its partners in developing and implementing cash transfer strategies at the height of the pandemic. Closer examination of the foundation's role provides insight for private donors, government agencies, and nonprofits into how partnership with local philanthropy can help them deliver a speedy and equitable response to populations hit hardest by a crisis.
Uninsurance among citizen children with any noncitizen parents rose from 6.0 to 8.0 percent between 2016 and 2019. This increase reversed much of the coverage gains they had experienced between 2013 and 2016 and was larger than that for citizen children with only citizen parents. The Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program participation rate among eligible citizen children with noncitizen parents also fell from 93.1 to 90.8 percent between 2016 and 2019, likely contributing to these children's increase in uninsurance. These changes widened coverage gaps for citizen children with noncitizen parents relative to those with only citizen parents. They also align with findings that the proposed expansion of the "public charge" rule to include use of noncash benefits in applications for lawful permanent residence and other federal immigration policy shifts beginning in 2017 deterred some immigrant families from using public programs for fear of immigration-related consequences.
Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the "public charge" rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible.This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. The interviews were conducted between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting.
Most economists agree that immigration boosts productivity, raises the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and prevents labor shortages. In 2016, one in six workers in the United States was an immigrant. These immigrant workers finance a major share of Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) payroll taxes that fund Social Security. The restrictionist Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act proposed in 2017 would halve the number of green cards granted yearly and change the criteria for awarding them, moving from a largely family-based system to an employment-based one. The bill aims to raise wages for American workers and promote economic growth. In How Might Restricting Immigration Affect Social Security's Finances, the Urban Institute analyzes the proposed bill and concludes that the RAISE Act would shrink the number of workers by two million workers by 2030 and 8 million by 2070. As a result, it would weaken Social Security finances by reducing OASDI payroll tax revenues. Over a 75-year period, the RAISE Act would increase Social Security's unfunded obligations from $11.6 trillion to $13.1 trillion. Additional analysis finds that restricting immigration would reduce GDP and have only marginal impact on American wages (no more than 0.16 to 0.23 percent). The authors warn that policymakers should reconsider supporting legislation such as the RAISE Act as it would exacerbate Social Security's financial problems and do little to improve the wages of the U.S.-born.
Using American Community Survey data for 21 cities, we find that if the immigrants who are eligible for naturalization became citizens, their earnings would increase 8.9 percent, and combined earnings for the 21 cities would increase $5.7 billion. Federal, state, and city tax revenue would increase $2.0 billion. Expenditures in government benefits would decline $34 million in New York City and increase $4 million in San Francisco. With an additional $789 million in taxes for New York City and $90 million for San Francisco, the net fiscal impact of naturalization on these two cities is overwhelmingly positive.