Coronavirus wreaks havoc on the future of U.S. immigrant labor
By Eric Martin, Bloomberg News
via Honolulu Star Advertiser - May 17, 2020
Rosibel Alvarenga’s job as a cook at a restaurant in downtown Washington provided steady income and job security for 15 years.
When the American bistro closed temporarily in the coronavirus shutdown, she continued receiving a paycheck. Once operations resume, her pre-virus earning potential may not.
“We’ve been told that each of us may only be needed one or two days a week,” says Alvarenga, who typically worked five. “We’re worried, because we simply don’t know what the future holds.”
The pandemic is reshaping the job market for millions of immigrants in the U.S. Consumers may be slow to return to the hotels, office buildings and manicure parlors where many are employed.
Over time, the very nature of the work some immigrants do is likely to change as businesses enforce new social-distancing and related requirements. Meat workers, the backbone of the food-supply chain, toil in close quarters and at least 30 have died of coronavirus, with more than 10,000 infected or exposed.
The reduced job opportunities, combined with President Donald Trump’s hard-line policies, mean the number of undocumented immigrants is likely to tumble, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.
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