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

New research from New American Economy shows that immigrants make up over 19 percent of all Food Sector workers and 6.9 percent of all Healthcare workers in Tulsa County.

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

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

Key findings from the report include: 

  • Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Tulsa County functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Immigrants comprise more than 19 percent of all Food Sector workers and 6.9 percent of all Healthcare workers in Tulsa County.
  • Immigrants play an important role in Tulsa as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 19 percent of business owners in General Services, including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops, and 17.4 percent of business owners in the Construction industry.
  • Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, over 31 percent of immigrants, or 17,742, living in Tulsa County had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top three languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (76.8 percent), Burmese, Lisu and Lolo (8.5 percent), and Vietnamese (5.0 percent).

The full report is being released ahead of the city’s first naturalization ceremony since the onset of the pandemic, on July 9th 11 am CT. In 2019, the City of Tulsa began hosting US Naturalization Ceremonies in partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Tulsa City Hall. Amid the Coronavirus outbreak USCIS closed its offices in mid-March and postponed nearly all naturalization ceremonies. As the state of Oklahoma moves towards reopening, the City of Tulsa has rescheduled naturalization ceremonies and will once again celebrate immigrants as they take their final step to US citizenship.

“We are very grateful for the partnership with NAE and their research which will inform our efforts to have a resilience response and recovery to COVID-19 that is immigrant inclusive,” said Krystal Reyes, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Tulsa.  “Tulsa’s immigrant community is diverse, vibrant, and helping make Tulsa a place of opportunity and growth for all.”

“The immigrant population is essential to keeping Tulsa running, yet especially vulnerable to gaps in our social safety nets,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “This new NAE research will support efforts by the City of Tulsa to work quickly and innovatively to fill critical gaps in federal programs and ensure that response and recovery efforts reach all residents.

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. 

Visit www.newamericaneconomy.org to learn 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…