New University of Minnesota history project shows COVID-19 impact on immigrants

The University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center recently launched the "Immigrants in COVID America" project to record the health, economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrants and refugees in the U.S.

The goal of the project is “to create a historical record of the crisis and to provide a publicly-accessible resource for emerging research, teaching and learning, creative work, and anti-racist advocacy that leads to equitable and social justice-centered change,” according to the project’s website.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us,” said Erika Lee, a history and Asian American studies professor who is leading the Immigration History Research Center research team behind the project. “However, Black, Indigenous and other communities of color are at a higher risk of death from COVID-19 complications and face the highest unemployment rates. Some are facing increased racism and hate crimes, while others face an upended immigration and refugee admissions system in the U.S.”

Researchers focused on four issues impacting immigrants, refugees and asylees during the pandemic: immigration policy, health, labor and the economy, and anti-Asian xenophobia. The “Immigrants in COVID America” website includes research, news reports, perspectives and other resources to summarize emerging trends and issues.

The Immigration History Research Center will document the experiences of immigrants and refugees during the pandemic through digital stories in partnership with Sahan Journal, a nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota.

The Center, in collaboration with Gustavus Adolphus College Professor Maddalena Marinari and her research team, will update the website throughout 2020. Support for the project comes from the recently-awarded SSRC Rapid Response Grant on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences from the Social Science Research Council.