BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — A new report by New American Economy (NAE), in partnership with the City of Brownsville, details the role immigrants play in the city’s COVID-19 response efforts.
Immigrants are estimated to make up 24 percent of the Brownsville population, and a large portion of the essential workforce.
“They are over 34 percent of workers in the food sector and over 30 percent in healthcare,” said Mo Katner, New American Economy director of state and local initiatives. “So, they’re really helping to fill critical jobs at this time.”
This data comes from a five-year sample of the American Community Survey, a subset of the census, and serves an important purpose. Brownsville leaders applied to be one of the ten cities selected for this report by bipartisan research and advocacy organization, NAE.
“What we are helping Brownsville see is where they can help fill in those gaps where the federal government is really falling flat,” Katner said.
One key finding is nearly 50 percent of immigrants, like Evangelina Rocha and Abel Mondragón who own on the family-run restaurant Marcelo’s Tacos do not have health insurance.
“We have Obama care, but we don’t have a stronger health care plan,” Mondragón said. “So that’s another reason why we’re taking many precautions.”
While restaurants are allowed to open for dining in, they still only offer pickup out of fear of becoming infected.
“We look forward to the day we can open up 100 percent, but that time is not right now,” said Evangelina Rocha. “I don’t want to open up to the public yet. A lot of people are annoyed by this, but we’re here staying strong amid the pandemic and doing our job, what we know how to do, which is cooking.”
One way Katner encourages the public to step up and support the immigrant population is to join local volunteer organizations. She added the NEA is glad to continue working with the city to help fill gaps in the community.