New York, April 21, 2020 – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to President Donald Trump’s planned Executive Order to halt immigration to America. Immigrants are making huge contributions to America’s response to the novel coronavirus, and historically, to America’s economy. There are growing gaps in the transportation and logistics industry where immigrants already make up 1.5 million workers. In food production, more than 700,000 immigrants work in agriculture or meat processing jobs, not including 200,000 guest workers in farms.

The shortage of healthcare professionals was well documented even before COVID-19 struck US communities. Refugees and immigrants are integral to the COVID-19 response in the US with 17 percent of the health system made up of immigrants, and 29 percent of doctors born outside of America. Immigrants also show high representation in fields that are relevant to seeking treatment for COVID-19 with 40 percent of medical and life scientists and 30 percent of chemist and material scientists, according to the CATO institute’s analysis of Census Bureau data.

The IRC recently launched an online platform with partners for refugees and immigrants with medical training abroad but are not credentialed in the US to join the fight against COVID-19. 

Hans Van de Weerd, the Vice President of Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration for the International Rescue Committee said:

“With immigrants already working on the front lines in the US to help fight the global pandemic, and more people eager to join and help from around the world, today’s announcement indicates that more help is not welcome and families must stay separated. This marks yet another heartbreaking and demoralizing development.

“It is a shame that this announcement comes as more and more immigrants and refugees continue to sign up to help, with nearly 500 people signing up on to put their health expertise to work, knowing that doing so may put their own health at risk. There isn’t evidence that travel bans work to stop the spread of COVID-19, but there is plenty of evidence that our health care system needs more support and that immigrants enrich the economy and country. We need tests, not bans.”

“This immigration ban will impact families waiting for years to be reunited. It will impact newly-weds waiting to start their lives, and adopted children waiting to meet their new parents. It also comes on top of recent actions that cut off thousands of asylum seekers from seeking protection, including many families and unaccompanied children. When COVID-19 ends, it will take the united effort of all Americans – those born abroad and in the US – to rebuild.”

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.