2020 Mid-Year Report

Dear Friends and Supporters,

This year, we have been met with unprecedented challenges. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt life in communities across the country, the Trump administration has doubled down on its xenophobic rhetoric and policies–scapegoating the same immigrants who are playing an essential role in getting us through this crisis.  At New American Economy (NAE), we have pivoted our work toward highlighting the crucial role immigrants are playing on the frontlines, fighting back against the Trump administration’s efforts to further curtail immigration, and helping cities and states across the country respond to COVID-19 in a way that is inclusive of all of their residents.

We have also had a number of important victories, even in the face of these challenges. From the SCOTUS decision on DACA to governors taking action to license immigrant healthcare workers, so much of our success this year has been made possible by the investment and support of key donors and supporters like you. Now that we are slightly more than halfway through the year, I want to report on our work so far and show you the critical impact your support has had in helping us advance our mission.

NAE Helps Cities and States Respond to COVID-19

In March, in response to the unprecedented crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, NAE quickly launched a COVID-19 Research Portal to serve as a resource for government officials, journalists, advocates, business leaders, and concerned community members in need of the latest data related to immigration and the ongoing public health crisis.

Every week since the Portal’s launch, we have released new research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics have ranged from how immigrants are critical to America’s response and recovery as frontline healthcare workers, essential workers, and scientists and researchers racing to develop a cure to how the job market is responding to the crisis, which jobs remain in-demand despite widespread economic uncertainty, and how immigrant workers in particular have fared. This research has been cited in numerous national and local outlets across the country.

Importantly, the data is also being used directly by state and local policymakers in the fight against COVID-19. 12 local communities and eight states with customized COVID-19 research reports, which are being used to support immigrant-inclusive emergency response initiatives, including multilingual emergency outreach, promoting healthcare accessibility, and expanding economic relief efforts. And through the Office of New Americans (ONA) State Network, housed by NAE along with World Education Services (WES) Global Talent Bridge, we’ve worked directly with states to share best practices and assist their response and recovery efforts, including bringing on a Senior Policy Coordinator to serve as a one-stop-shop for state and local governments as they transition from emergency response to long-term recovery and resiliency planning.

Since March, several governor’s offices — many of which receive technical assistance from NAE and WES Global Talent Bridge — have created new licensing rules that temporarily allow more immigrants to practice as physicians, nurses, and other frontline healthcare workers.

In addition to engaging policymakers, local officials, and business groups, NAE has worked to reach Americans directly with first-hand stories from immigrants and refugees on the frontlines, placing op-eds from healthcare professionals, small business owners, and other essential workers in outlets like the Arizona Republic, the South Bend Tribune, the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Bucks County Courier Times.

And in response to the lockdown on large gatherings and events, NAE’s new Arts & Culture arm, which launched last year with a series of high-profile festivals across the country, quickly pivoted to digital engagement, launching a virtual cooking series with immigrant chefs from around the country. Our aim was to create a sense of community and help raise funds for some of the communities hit hardest. Throughout the spring we’ve been cooking everything from Mangonada with Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina to fried rice with James Chiang of Waldo Thai (you can watch a sizzle of our series here).

And our growing audience has followed. Earlier this year, NAE partnered with the New York State Youth Leadership Council and comedian Julio Torres (Saturday Night Live, HBO’s Los Espookys and My Favorite Shapes) to host “My Sun in Aquarius,” a digital comedy show featuring Aidy Bryant, Fred Armisen, Natasha Lyonne, Nick Kroll and Bowen Yang that raised more than $50,000 to benefit undocumented
workers in NYC.

Fighting to Protect DREAMers

Since his first year in office, Trump has fought to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provides work authorization and protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, recently taking that fight all the way to the Supreme Court. NAE has fought back at every step, providing new research on Dreamers’ myriad contributions to the U.S. economy and society, organizing mayors and business leaders across the country to speak out against the Trump administration’s attacks on the program, and putting hundreds of Dreamers’ stories front and center — in their own words — in national and local outlets across the country.

In April and May, NAE released new research finding that nearly half of the DACA-eligible are essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response and recovery, including an estimated 62,000 DACA-eligible individuals who are essential healthcare workers like nurses, health aides and medical assistants. We also partnered with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of hundreds of college and university presidents, to publish the groundbreaking report, Undocumented Students in Higher Education: How Many Students Are in U.S. Colleges and Universities and Who Are They?The report was the first time national and state-level estimates of how many undocumented and DACA-eligible individuals are enrolled in higher education have been published.

Crucially, as the Supreme Court heard arguments in the DACA case, NAE’s research was cited in multiple amicus briefs, including from faith leaders like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and military leaders like the Former Service Secretaries, Modern Military Association of America, and Military and Veterans Advocacy Organizations.

And in the weeks surrounding the SCOTUS decision, NAE’s storytelling team placed 17 unique pieces from Dreamers and their allies in national outlets like the New York Times and Cosmopolitan Magazine, as well as local outlets like the Dallas Morning News, El Paso Times, New York Daily News, Deseret News, Las Vegas Sun, Denver Westword, Bucks County Courier Times, CalMatters, as well as an op-ed in the Denver Post authored by former Representative and current Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman (R-CO).

But we know the fight isn’t over. Just last week, the Trump administration announced that it plans to partially rescind DACA, barring new applications and limiting the renewal period to one year, among other changes. Ultimately, Congress must pass legislation to permanently protect Dreamers, which is exactly the message shared by NAE partner business groups like UNITE-LA and NAE’s Texas coalition, Texans for Economic Growth, which sent an open letter to the Texas Congressional Delegation the day after the SCOTUS decision.

Fending Off Trump’s Continued Attacks on Immigrants

In addition to going after DACA, the Trump administration has waged a litany of attacks on U.S. legal and humanitarian migration channels — going after international students, visa holders at all skill levels, refugees, asylees, and more — under the guise of protecting Americans from COVID-19 and competition for work as the economy recovers.

NAE has responded in turn, producing quick-hit research and mobilizing civic and business leaders, as well as concerned citizens across the country, to push back on the Administration’s efforts. The same week that ICE issued guidance to bar international students whose institutions move their coursework entirely online, NAE released a new report, “Not Coming to America: Falling Behind in the Race to Attract International Students,” highlighting the short- and long-term economic consequences of America’s failure to attract talent. 

Similarly, NAE’s Storytelling Team placed stories from individuals directly impacted by the Trump administration’s decisions and the failure of Congress to solve our pressing immigration challenges. We’ve elevated key voices in business to criticize Trump’s misguided H-1B visa ban, like in this piece by a successful immigrant CEO in Fortune, and this piece from the eight largest chambers of commerce in Texas in the Houston Chronicle. We’ve worked with unlikely champions, like a Michigan farmer and Trump voter speaking out in Fox Business News on the U.S. food supply chain challenge and the need to legalize undocumented farm workers. And we’ve featured the compelling stories of those directly under attack, like this piece by a gay Muslim refugee that ran in Fox News over Pride weekend.

We have also provided federal advocacy opportunities through our
Global Talent Chamber Network, providing chambers of commerce with research and messaging guidance on issues like the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, the recent Executive Order on H-1B and H-2B visa limitations, and more.

The Road Ahead: Building Inclusion from the Ground Up

As we head into the 2020 election and beyond, NAE will continue to build the capacity of local communities to welcome newcomers, and to build coalitions of civic and business leaders in red and purple states across the country to advocate for change and hold state-level and Congressional leaders accountable.

Since January, NAE has added 11 new local communities to our network — bringing our total number of active communities to more than 90, 77 percent of which are in red or purple states. In an effort to continue growing our network, we recently announced a call for applications for the fourth round of our signature Gateways for Growth (G4G) Program on July 8 and look forward to working with a new cohort of local communities to design community-wide immigrant integration plans. Whether through G4G, COVID-specific research, or our work with chambers of commerce, so far this year NAE has released research and started the process of building welcoming strategies in:

  • Northern Virginia: In partnership with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Community Foundation for Northern Virginia 
  • Middlesex, New Jersey: In Partnership with Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Einstein’s Alley (coinciding with the recent formation of the New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition)
  • Longview, Texas: In partnership with the Longview Chamber of Commerce 
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma:  In partnership with the City of Tulsa
  • Louisville, Kentucky: In partnership with the Louisville Metro Government

NAE has also worked in more than 20 states organizing local leaders for State Compacts on Immigration and business coalitions; supporting the Office of New Americans (ONA) State Network; and releasing legislative briefs and fact sheets to help support pro-immigrant state legislation and fight back against anti-immigrant state legislation in Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Oklahoma, Ohio, New Jersey and Missouri. We were proud to lend our research and advocacy efforts to the successful passage of a state Dream Act and the establishment of an Office of New Americans in Virginia.

This year, we also launched a State Compact in Michigan, bringing the number of business-led State Compacts on Immigration to six states (including Texas, Iowa, Utah, Florida, and Colorado), with more than 520 business and civic leaders signed on in total. We are actively working in additional states to launch new Compacts and translate existing efforts into business coalitions that can advocate for meaningful reform.

Across the country, NAE continues to work to change the narrative on immigration. From January to July, NAE’s storytelling team published 76 unique pieces, covering 126 districts with 26 reprints. In addition to broad local coverage, we are branching out to reach a wider set of audiences, with recent features in Ebony, Cosmopolitan, and Zora, as well as a piece from NAE’s Executive Director Jeremy Robbins on how to combat xenophobia. Recent polling suggests that these efforts, and the efforts of those leading the movement for immigrant inclusion across the country, are working: A recent Gallup found more support for immigration than it had ever found in the history of its polling.

Thank You

This year has challenged us in unprecedented ways, making innovation, rapid response, and strong partnerships crucial to achieving our goals. Despite the numerous obstacles, our resolve to fight for an America where everyone can feel safe and welcome is stronger than ever. With your support, we have been able to quickly adapt to meet the current moment, and to lay the groundwork for the remainder of 2020, the election, and beyond. Thank you for standing with us during this year of incredible challenges, and for your continued support as we continue to build more inclusive communities and fight back on behalf of immigrants in the face of uncertainty and fear.

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We are grateful for your support.


The NAE Team

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…