"The perfect storm": community worker perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on New York City immigrants and migrant-serving organizations

Front Public Health. 2024 May 7:12:1387182. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2024.1387182. eCollection 2024.


Background: Immigrants in New York City (NYC) have higher COVID-19 mortality than the general population. While migrant-serving organizations (MSOs) provide access to a breadth of services, they are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to staffing limitations, funding cuts, and resource limitations of communities served.

Methods: Six focus-group discussions were conducted to explore the experiences of MSOs in NYC during the COVID-19 pandemic from November 2021 to March 2022. Study participants csomprised a subsample of survey respondents from a larger study identified via lists of MSOs.

Results: Twenty-seven organizational representatives from 11 MSOs across NYC participated in the discussions. In addition to providing information on communities served, services offered, and organizational characteristics, the following themes emerged from the convenings: mental health challenges and resources needed for immigrants; immigration-related challenges; factors exacerbating hardships for immigrants during COVID-19; interorganizational collaborations and partnerships; policy change; and needs/requests of MSOs. MSOs provide a wide range of services as non-profit organizations and use interorganizational collaboration to improve service delivery. The proximity of MSOs to immigrant communities helps providers understand the needs of immigrants relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and factors that shape telehealth services.

Conclusion: MSOs are important providers and advocates for immigration policy in the US given their relationship with the populations they serve. These findings have implications for how to support MSOs that serve immigrants in NYC. Strategies to achieve this include timelier availability and exchange of information, policies, and research as well as strengthening the experience-based advocacy of these groups.

Keywords: COVID-19; NYC; coordination; immigrants; organizations; service support.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Focus Groups*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare that financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This work was supported by the Howard J. Samuels State and City Policy Center 2020–2021 Fellowship Grant, and the preparation of this manuscript was supported by the Oak Foundation, Award Number OFiL-20-283. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Howard J. Samuels State and City Policy Center or the Oak Foundation.