ImMigrants in covid america

Documenting the Impact of Covid-19 on

Immigrants & Refugees in the U.S.

We are still trying to understand the full impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the United States, but it is clear that the disease has disproportionately affected 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 has been 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.

Beginning with the January 30, 2020 World Health Organization declaration that the coronavirus outbreak was an international emergency to the one-year anniversary of when the WHO declared that the emergency had officially become a pandemic on March 11, 2021, we have focused on four issues that have particularly affected immigrants, refugees, and asylees during the pandemic: health, vaccines, and equity, immigration policy, labor & the economy, and xenophobia and racism. As a Minnesota-based organization, we also have a page focusing on issues and developments in the state. 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 has additionally created 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 have selected 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 has been 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, the Mapping At-Risk Immigrant Communities and Access to Health Care project (Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative,) and the University of Minnesota's National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants and Migrants.

This project has been funded by the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, and in collaboration with the Department of History at Gustavus Adolphus College, with the support of a SSRC Rapid Response Grant on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences from the Social Science Research Council.



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).

Project Co-Director and Editor: Maddalena Marinari is an Associate Professor of history at Gustavus Adolphus College. ​​Her research focuses on immigration restriction, U.S. immigration policy, and immigrant mobilization. She is the author of Unwanted: Italian And Jewish Mobilization Against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882–1965 (2020) and co-editor, along with Maria Cristina Garcia and Madeline Hsu, of A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924–1965 (2019).

Editor: Eunice (Yun Jung) Kim is a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s history department. She researches transpacific migration in the latter half of the 20th century, with a focus on the interactions between the refugees and the Asian im/migrant communities that existed around the U.S. military bases. 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 Asian diasporic communities.

Editor: Bella Rolland is a student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where she is pursuing her MPH in maternal and child health and minoring in health equity.

Editor: Lei ZHANG is a lecturer (equivalent to an Assistant Professor in the U.S.) of English at Renmin University of China in Beijing. He received his Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Minnesota. His doctoral dissertation, “Chinese Student Migration and the Trans-Pacific Making of Chinese America” examines the contestations and complicities between American policymakers, Chinese students, and the Chinese government near the end of the Cold War, and their implications for global race-making and U.S.-China relations.

Researcher: Catherine Lim graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, where she majored in biology and history. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Minnesota.

Researcher: Lillie Ortloff is a student at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she is majoring in history with minors in gender, women, and sexuality studies and public health.

Additional help from Adrian Chavana, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History (University of Minnesota,) and Hana Maruyama, who received her Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut.)

Immigration History Research Center

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