ImMigrants in covid america

Documenting the Impact of Covid-19 on

Immigrants & Refugees in the U.S.

There is much that we do not yet know about the full impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the United States, but it is clear that the disease is disproportionately affecting immigrant, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. This curated digital collection of news reports, data, perspectives, and other resources documents the health, economic, and social impact of COVID-19 on immigrants and refugees in the United States. Our goal 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.

Documenting the first six-month period of the pandemic in the U.S. – beginning with the January 30, 2020 World Health Organization declaration that the coronavirus outbreak was an international emergency – we focus on four issues that have particularly affected immigrants, refugees, and asylees during the pandemic: immigration policy, health, labor & the economy, and anti-Asian xenophobia. Through a partnership with the Sahan Journal, a nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to providing authentic news reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota, the Immigration History Research Center is also creating digital stories documenting the experiences of immigrants and refugees during the pandemic and posting them here: STORIES FROM THE PANDEMIC.

We highlight fact-based research and reporting from reputable national media sources and think tanks supplemented by ethnic and local media. We also include perspectives from experts, scholars, and political commentators and provide a summary analysis of emerging trends and issues. We use a variety of methods to identify sources, including Google news alerts and immigration-related newsletters and digests, such as Migratory Notes and ImmigrationProfBlog. We select sources to provide both depth and breadth. Diverse perspectives and opinions – political and otherwise – are included whenever possible, especially when they highlight the trajectory behind certain policies and the experiences of immigrants and refugees themselves.

As research on COVID-19 is new and emerging, some sources are webinars, podcast episodes, blog entries, and opinion pieces featuring immigration experts or created by immigrant-serving organizations. And we have drawn inspiration from similar projects tracking COVID-19 developments like the YELLOW PERIL TEACH-IN RESOURCES (organized by Professor Jason Chang), the COVID Racial Data Tracker (The Atlantic), COVID-19 Migration-Related Developments Initiative (Center for Migration Studies), Black America and COVID-19 Lib Guide (Harvard University,) the American Historical Association's Bibliography of Historians' Responses to COVID-19, and the Mapping At-Risk Immigrant Communities and Access to Health Care project (Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative.)

We welcome your suggestions!

In collaboration with Professor Maddalena Marinari (Gustavus Adolphus College) and her research team, with the support of a recently-awarded SSRC Rapid Response Grant on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences from the Social Science Research Council, we will be updating the site throughout the rest of the year. We hope you'll check back in to see what is new.



Founded in 1965 at the University of Minnesota, the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) aims to transform the way in which we understand immigration in the past and present. Along with its partner, the IHRC Archives (University Libraries), it is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary research center and archives devoted to preserving and understanding immigrant and refugee life in North America. We promote interdisciplinary research on migration, race, and ethnicity in the United States and the world through monthly seminars and research grants. We connect US immigration history research to contemporary immigrant and refugee communities through our Immigrant Stories project. We advance public dialogue about immigration with timely programs that draw audiences from around the corner and around the world. We support teaching and learning at all levels, and develop archives documenting immigrant and refugee experiences for future generations.


Project Director and Editor: Erika Lee is a Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of four award-winning books, including most recently, The Making of Asian America: A History (2015) and America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States (2019).

Editor: Eunice Kim is a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s history department. Her research interest is in transpacific migration, with a focus on how Asian migrant communities have maintained their transnational connections as the American political climate and immigration policies rapidly changed during the latter half of the 20th century. She wrote her MA in Anthropology thesis on the structural violence of British immigration law and the tactics of overt/subversive resistance amongst London’s Southeast/Northeast Asian diasporic communities.

Editor: Lei Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate of American Studies and a Graduate Instructor in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on the implications of Chinese student migration on U.S. racial formation and U.S.-China relations since the 1980s.

Additional help from Professor Maddalena Marinari (Gustavus Adolphus College,) Adrian Chavana, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History (University of Minnesota,) and Hana Maruyama, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies (University of Minnesota.)

Immigration History Research Center

311 Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 21st Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455