Regardless of their culture, ethnicity or country of origin, immigrants move to Dubuque for the same reason — the hope for a good life for themselves and their loved ones. In Dubuque, people from countries like the Marshall Islands, Mexico and Guatemala find access to necessities like jobs, services and social networks, but they also face numerous barriers to meeting their needs — barriers that have only grown with the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is one of the findings of a group of graduate student-researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management who partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in the first half of 2020. Their goal was to study the landscape of resources available to immigrant families in the Dubuque area, and when the pandemic arrived, their work quickly pivoted to focus on the impact of the coronavirus on immigrant communities.
“We learned how the vulnerabilities and isolation many immigrant communities faced had worsened rapidly because of the pandemic,” the graduate students wrote in a recent blog post for MIT’s Good Companies, Good Jobs program. “The Dubuque region has a substantial portion of immigrants from the Marshall Islands, and members of this community, many of whom suffer from widespread preexisting health conditions and live in high-density housing, faced some of the greatest risks from the virus. Similarly, Guatemalan and Mexican families were living in poverty, some fearing detention and deportation, and losing the service-sector jobs they had relied on.”
In their report, the students outline several recommendations for how to improve immigrants’ connections to jobs and resources in the Dubuque area — and as the pandemic continues, the need to fund solutions becomes more urgent.