Immigrants and refugees play vital roles on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 and will continue playing essential roles to keep the U.S. moving forward. The need to address longstanding barriers to economic mobility faced by many immigrants and refugees today is therefore clear. As we look to rebuild the economy, we must ensure that the needs of immigrant and refugee workers are addressed and that recovery plans fully recognize their contributions, value, and potential.  

On Tuesday, June 23, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and WES Global Talent Bridge Program brought partners together for a Twitter chat, #ImmigrantsThrive, to discuss building an equitable economic recovery. During the conversation, organizations and leaders highlighted systemic barriers to immigrant integration and discussed policy interventions, emerging ideas, and resources that could ensure inclusive, intersectional, and dynamic solutions to support immigrants and refugees in recovery. 

Here are the key takeaways that surfaced:

1. COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need to provide adequate job training and support and ensure the safety and health of immigrant and refugeworkers in low-wage jobs as economies reopen 

2. Across sectors and systems, we must center solutions around workers’ needs and perspectives and make sure immigrant and refugee workers are included as decision-makers. 

3. The federal government has excluded many immigrant communities in its response to COVID-19, leaving states and locales to pick up the slackMore equitable policy solutions are necessary at federal, state, and local levels. 

4. Several immigrant-serving organizations offer resources on policies and programs to build inclusive state and local economies for immigrants and refugees.  

5. Philanthropic funders can play a role in filling gaps in federal support and ensure that immigrants and refugees are not left out of recovery solutions. Philanthropy can step in and fund different kinds of solutions that put workers at the center.  

6. The COVID-19 recovery phase provides a window of opportunity for employers to shift practices to be inclusive of immigrant talent. 

7. As the role of technology in the workplace grows, divides in digital literacy, access, equipment, and infrastructure must be addressed to ensure equitable opportunities for immigrants and refugees 

8. Cross-sector partnerships and collaborative efforts can help fund and implement immigrant-inclusive workforce training solutions and career pathways 

9. Three million refugees have resettled in the U.S. since the launch of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program 40 years ago. As we build solutions, we must recognize there are challenges that are unique to refugee workers. 

10. Immigrants and refugees represent a diverse group of people. It’s important to elevate their unique voices and to acknowledge that recovery will vary across different cities, states, and sectors.  

 

Thank you to all participating organizations! We encourage readers to continue to share and discuss why immigrants and refugees are essential to the U.S.’s COVID-19 response and how they can contribute to the economic recovery now and beyond the pandemic. 

Participating organizations: 

Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation  

Building Skills Partnership   

Community College Consortium of Immigrant Education  

Center for Immigrant Education & Training (CIET) at LaGuardia Community College  

Church World Service  

Coalition on Adult Basic Education

Federal Bank of Philadelphia

Global Cleveland  

Global Switchboard  

International Institute of Buffalo  

International Institute of St. Louis  

Interfaith Immigration Coalition  

Immigrant Learning Center   

IMPRINT Coalition  

International Rescue Committee  

JFF 

JVS Boston 

Mission Driven Finance  

Mission Investors Exchange  

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition 

National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy  

National Immigration Forum  

New American Economy  

National Partnership for New Americans

Portland Office of Economic Opportunity  

Refugees International  

Refugee Congress  

Refugee Council USA   

Refugee Investment Network  

Riverside Language  

San Diego Grantmakers 

San Diego Workforce Partnership  

Tent Partnership  

Upwardly Global  

Welcoming America  

Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians   

Workers Defense Project  

Workforce Matters Funders Group   

World Education 

YMCA 

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