Skip to main content
Cornell University mobile logo

Worker Institute Blog

The Worker Institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to address issues related to confronting systemic inequality and building a fair economy, robust democracy and just society. We will share opinion, analysis, research, data, insights and training from our faculty and staff.
Originally published in Work and the Coronavirus.

Opinion – All Undocumented Immigrants Deserve Citizenship – Not Just Essential Workers

man wearing a mask and high-vis vest riding a delivery bike

Shannon Gleeson

You can read the full article at In These Times, as it was published on July 16.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the large number of undocumented immigrants who work in “essential jobs,” ranging from agriculture to hospital workers. Many of them labor in workplaces like meatpacking where the virus is notoriously rampant, and few to no protections exist. Close to 11 million immigrants currently live in the United States without legal status. About eight million of these affected undocumented individuals (and at least hundreds of thousands more with DACA, TPS, or low-wage guestworker visas) are in the U.S. labor force.

As scholars of immigration and labor, we have examined the poverty wages and dangerous working conditions faced by immigrant workers even before the threat of Covid-19. Many of these workers are now held up as essential heroes who are feeding and caring for America. Meanwhile, they face a ramped up system of detention, deportation and surveillance under the Trump administration.

Read the rest at In These Times.