San José Uses New Research to Inform Immigrant-inclusive COVID-19 Relief Measures

New research from New American Economy shows that immigrants in San José play an outsize role in essential industries, including 68 percent of all agriculture workers, nearly 50 percent of all restaurant and food services and 43.5 percent of healthcare workers in 2018.

San José, CA– New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with the City of San José highlights how immigrants are both essential to San José’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. 

San José 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 the metro area’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 San José functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up 38.5 percent of the metro area’s residents in 2018, immigrants make outsize contributions to several essential industries, making up over 68 percent of all agriculture workers, over 62 percent of all food processing workers, nearly 50 percent of all restaurant and food services, and 43.5 percent of healthcare workers in San José. 
  • Immigrants play an important role in San José as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up over 67 percent of business owners in hospitality and 58.3 percent of business owners in general services, which includes personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops .
  • Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, over 21 percent of immigrants, or 164,862, living in San José had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top five languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (43.4 percent), Vietnamese (22.6 percent), Chinese (17.6 percent), Filipino, Tagalog (3.0 percent) and Hindi and related (3.0 percent). 

“This pandemic has highlighted the urgency to center equity in decision-making today so that our immigrant and refugee communities are resilient tomorrow,” said Zulma Maciel, Director of San José’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This report developed by New American Economy will inform our approach to an inclusive emergency and economic recovery plan.”

“The immigrant population is essential to keeping San José 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 San José 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 City of San José

With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California’s largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City’s anticipated growth through the year 2040.

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…