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This week I decided to read "Why Migration Matters for "recovering better" from
COVID-19. " one of the issue briefs from International Organization for Migration (IOM). This briefing can be found at https://www.iom.int/issuebriefs
This article explores the current crisis that is aggravated by mobility restrictions. The restrictions are in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. However, they also have an
unprecedented impact on migration, immigration, and other daily life routines. At least 15 countries are vital sectors that are essential to economies and societies pertaining to COVID-19, such as health and food production; a few of them are Germany, France, United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada (Riallant & IOM UN Migration, 2020)
I would also like to point out that immigrants have an essential role in the agricultural, restaurant, and hotel industries. Many of us tend to forget that low-skilled immigrant workers are also consumers of goods and services made in the United States and other countries like Canada, that their low-cost labor helps the economic output and that children of immigrants often choose to pursue higher education. (Smith, 2016)
With the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19 – migrant workers are hard hit by
unemployment. Also, many migrants will be returning home to some of the programs that their families depend on to find that the programs are no longer able to support the migrants' families when they need it.
One of the critical issues right now is that urban life (big, medium, small) is not designed for
pandemics. Pandemics are anti-urban (Kimmelman, 2020); most humans need interaction with other humans. With social distancing, life is much different than what we are used to. Then we add all the restrictions for travel, work, playing in an open public space. It gets overwhelming.
"COVID-19 does not discriminate, and nor
should our response, if it is to succeed" (United Nations Network on Migration, 2020)
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Some of the solutions that IOM UN Migration proposes to recover the domestic and international sectors include tapping into development and building resilience for socio-economic recovery and lowering remittance transfers. Another proposed solution was to empower diaspora organizations and migrants to support COVID-19 response and recovery.
I would also add that it's not just national governments that should be responsible for protecting migrant workers' rights, but it should also fall on the states and local authorities to support such protections. Government experts at the national and local levels must take the actions required to protect the health of all those living in unsafe circumstances and the most vulnerable regardless of status.
Over the years, I have learned more about immigrants and the crucial roles that immigration has in our economy, like the agricultural, hospitality, and low-skilled jobs sectors that meet many of our daily human needs. Before the pandemic, immigrants were migrating to the United States for low-skilled jobs, which only accounts for approximately 5 percent of the U.S. job force, i.e., agricultural, hotel, restaurants, and janitorial. Researchers have found data from the U.S. Census Bureau that anti-immigration laws have resulted in a 1 to 2 percent drop in employment in authorized and unauthorized workers in the low-skilled sectors (Huyen & Hoang Van, 2010) than
you add a pandemic into the mix.
All of this makes me question how people could ever be anti-immigration when immigrants are
such an integral part of why our communities grow and prosper.
Migration has shown us that it brings thriving and healthy societies to the local and international levels. It also demonstrates a "wake up call" to re-think how we look at migration and immigration (Riallant & IOM UN Migration, 2020).
Huyen , P., & Hoang Van, P. (2010). The Economic Impact of Local Immigration Regulation: An Empirical Analysis. 485(32). Retrieved October 19, 2020, from
Kimmelman, M. (2020, March 17). Can City Life Survive Coronavirus? (T. N. Times, Ed.) The
New York Times, p. 3. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from
Riallant, C., & IOM UN Migration. (2020). WHY MIGRATION MATTERS FOR "RECOVERING
BETTER". Breif. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from
Smith, R. (2016, August 22). Should workers be brought into U.S. to perform low-skilled jobs or
should the low-skilled jobs be exported to poor countries? blog. Beaverton, Oregon, USA.
Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://ronnieleesmith.wixsite.com/rlsmith/singlepost/2016/08/22/Research-presentation-at-NIT
United Nations Network on Migration. (2020, MArch 10). COVID-19 Does Not Discriminate; Nor Should Our Response. Retrieved OCtober 19, 2020, from UNNM: