How New Immigration Restrictions Could Hurt Wisconsin

Apr 28, 2020

There's been a lot of news recently about President Trump limiting immigration. On April 22, he signed an executive order suspending new green cards from being issued for immigrants looking to become permanent U.S. residents. There are some exceptions, like for children of U.S. citizens or for health care professionals coming to help fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Trump claims these workers are a "risk to the U.S. labor market." But many businesses in Wisconsin and across the country rely on these workers, even when unemployment is high. 

Barbara Graham is an attorney and director of refugee and immigration services at Catholic Charities Milwaukee. She cites a study from the Migration Policy Institute that says this order will stop 26,000 people a month from getting lawful permanent residency. The worry is that this decision is not being made from a health perspective but from an economic one.

"If you listen to some of the world-class economists, they don't think that the immigrant community has a negative impact on the U.S. job market," says Graham. 

In Wisconsin, the dairy industry relies heavily on immigrant workers. "The dairy industry is worried that they will implode without undocumented workers," says Graham. "[Undocumented people] do work in grocery stores, they work in trucking, they are entrepreneurial." All of those are essential to communities to fight through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Catholic Charities Milwaukee provides services for both refugees and immigrants in Milwaukee. It also posts videos with information on its YouTube channel, including this one about the coronavirus and immigration status:

During this pandemic, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.