Published Date: November 13, 2022

Summary: The relationship between immigrant entry and COVID-19 spread in the United States has driven much political discussion and policy, including the implementation of Title 42 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To examine the relationship between COVID-19 spread and immigrant entry, authors compared 2020–2021 immigrant flows with local COVID-19 rates, using estimates of border crossings from the U.S. Border Patrol and visas issued through the Department of Labor’s seasonal guest worker program.

Findings: Authors’ analysis capturing seasonal guest worker entry at the national level showed no statistically significant relationship with COVID-19 rates. Their analyses of Southwest border crossings showed a small, statistically significant relationship between immigrant flows and COVID-19 rates in border counties (0.14 percent increase in local cases per 100,000 residents for each additional 100 immigrants). However, this estimate is modest compared with the fact that half of all month-to-month changes in case rates were greater than 59 percent. Furthermore, the modest increase became nonsignificant with increasing local vaccination rates. Estimates also did not maintain their statistical significance when analyzed with some alternative approaches. These findings support existing evidence that the short-term impacts of immigrant flow on local COVID-19 rates were minimal.

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