A new national study found nearly 20 million immigrants are part of the essential workforce that’s keeping the U.S. going, especially in states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

By Maria Guerrero

The Center for Migration Studies released a new report that found 19.8 million immigrants are working in jobs deemed essential, including frontline jobs, agricultural jobs, as well as food and beverage, grocery, and retail stores.

The report shows these employees are working in states with the highest number of coronavirus cases including:

  • 33% of health care sector workers in New York State
  • 32% in California
  • 31% in New Jersey
  • 23% in Massachusetts
  • 17% in Illinois
  • 9% in Pennsylvania

The study used 2018 Census data and found immigrants, both legal and undocumented, make up a larger percentage of the essential infrastructure workforce compared to native-born workers.

‘In the midst of the pandemic and in the places where they are most needed, immigrants are working to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to sustain their fellow Americans — often at great personal risk,’ said Donald Kerwin, CMS’s executive director in a press release. ‘These same workers are going to be essential to the United States’ economic recovery. They deserve our support and thanks.’

Those behind the study want to highlight both legal and undocumented immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. economy in hopes of pushing forward immigration reform.

According to the study, half of the workers are naturalized U.S. citizens, the other half consists of legal and undocumented migrants.

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