RIM Communities

Image of a woman in a pink hijab and gray face mask shopping at the grocery store

Important members of their communities

Refugees, immigrants and migrants are important members of their communities. They are neighbors and friends, business owners and entrepreneurs, parents and grandparents, artists and musicians. They care for the sick and the elderly, bring food to stores, educate children and pursue their own education. Without refugees, immigrants and migrants, our communities would not thrive as they are today.

A diversity of experiences

According to recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 million people living in the United States were born in another country. This population is incredibly diverse representing many cultures, languages, regions of the world, as well as motivations for migration to the United States. Some come here permanently and others come for short-term or seasonal work or for an education. Others arrive through formal programs such as the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program or as asylum-seekers. 

Some communities are well established in the United States while others are still very new to the country. Communities represent a wide range of socioeconomic statuses, educational attainment, English proficiency levels, and occupations, and face differential barriers to public health and health care services. 

Despite their challenges, refugees, immigrants, and migrants are an integral part of the nation’s social, cultural, and economic vitality. They have proven that they are strong, resilient and dedicated to the success of the communities where they live during this unprecedented time. With the right tools, we can eliminate the health disparities they face.

Effects of COVID-19

While COVID-19 is a public health threat to the entire US population, there is growing evidence that the outbreak disproportionately affects some populations, including certain refugee, immigrant and migrant (RIM) communities.

RIM communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 not because of any biological or genetic factor, but because of long-standing, systemic, health and social inequities. It particularly affects people in these communities who experience economic challenges or are working in essential jobs, like farmworkers and food processing plant employees. 

There are multiple factors that drive this disproportionate impact, including:

  • Work environments that make social distancing challenging
  • Tenuous social and economic positions that make prevention and mitigation activities such as isolation and quarantine difficult
  • Immigration status
  • Barriers to healthcare access

Moreover, some state and local health departments may not yet be fully equipped to manage COVID outbreaks among culturally and linguistically diverse populations.