City of Brownsville Uses New Research to Inform Immigrant-inclusive COVID-19 Relief Measures

New Research from New American Economy shows that immigrants in Cameron County play an outsize role in critical industries, making up over 34 percent of all food sector workers and 30.1 percent of all healthcare workers.

Brownsville, TX– New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with the City of Brownsville highlights how immigrants are both essential to the city’s rapid response efforts and especially vulnerable due to gaps in federal relief packages, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work.

The City of Brownsville is one of twelve communities that received NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. Brownsville’s customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of Cameron County’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.

The report will be released today at the City of Brownsville’s Q2 Developer’s Meet and Greet from 5:30-7:30pm CDT. The virtual event provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for city, economic development and business professionals to network and further collaborate. The event will feature remarks from a wide breadth of city and regional business professionals, and a presentation on the new report by Gabby Carmona, Senior Policy Associate at New American Economy.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Cameron County functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up 23.9 percent of the county’s residents in 2018, immigrants comprise 34.1 percent of all food sector workers and 30.1 percent of all healthcare workers in Cameron County. 
  • Immigrants play an important role in Cameron County as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 72.4 percent of business owners in construction and over 63 percent of business owners in general services, including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops.
  • Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, 53.1 percent of immigrants, or 53,473, living in Cameron County had limited English language proficiency. The top language spoken at home other than English was Spanish (99.2 percent). 
  • Access to healthcare and medical services remains critical during this pandemic. Over 48 percent of immigrants, or 48,761, were living in Cameron County without health insurance in 2018.

“The City of Brownsville is excited to work with New American Economy. The research has shown how crucial immigrants are to our city as well as how vulnerable they can be during this pandemic. It is essential that we take into consideration their increased risk of infection associated with their occupations,” said City Manager Noel Bernal for the City of Brownsville. “It is extremely important that we as a city do our part to protect all individuals. This pandemic does not discriminate. By protecting one, we protect all.”

Read the full research report here.

About New American Economy

New American Economy (NAE) is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization founded to educate, empower and support policymakers, influencers, and citizens across the country that see the economic and social benefits of a smart approach to immigration reform. NAE has created a coalition of civic, business, and cultural leaders who span the political spectrum and represent all 50 states. NAE makes the case for smart immigration reform in four ways: 1) we use powerful research to demonstrate how immigration impacts our economy, 2) we organize champions at the grassroots and influencer levels to build support for immigration, 3) we partner with state and local leaders to advocate for policies that recognize the value immigrants add locally, and 4) we show immigrant contributions to American culture through film, food, art, sports, comedy, and more. 

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…