Brief Being an Immigrant with Disabilities
Paola Echave, Dulce Gonzalez
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Immigrants with disabilities face multiple structural challenges, including discrimination, socioeconomic disadvantage, and barriers to safety net access. However, limited research discusses the prevalence of disability among nonelderly adult immigrants and the characteristics of this population. Drawing on five-year estimates from the 2015 to 2019 American Community Survey, this brief provides a snapshot of select characteristics of nonelderly immigrants with disabilities ages 18 to 64. Overall, 5.6 percent of nonelderly immigrants have a disability. Disaggregation by race and ethnicity shows us that this prevalence is highest among nonelderly Black Latinx immigrants at 10.2 percent and lowest for non-Latinx Asian immigrants at 4.2 percent. Other key findings are as follows:

  • Roughly 1 in 3 (35.3 percent) immigrants with disabilities has limited English proficiency.
  • About 3 in 10 (30.7 percent) immigrants with disabilities are from Mexico.
  • Nearly half (49.3 percent) of nonelderly immigrants with disabilities report having low family incomes (under 200 percent of the family federal poverty level).
  • About four in 10 (41.4 percent) immigrants with disabilities are employed. Three in 10 (30.0 percent) immigrants with disabilities are working in service occupations, such as janitors and building cleaners, housekeeping cleaners, and personal care aides.
  • One in 8 (12.7 percent) immigrants with disabilities reported receiving Supplemental Security Income in the 12 months before the survey.
  • Three in 10 (30.3 percent) noncitizens report being uninsured at the time of the survey, while 1 in 10 (9.5 percent) naturalized citizens report being uninsured.

The results presented in this brief can inform efforts to improve the well-being of immigrants with disabilities through strategies such as increased access to government public services, improvements in job access and quality, and development of community models to promote disability inclusion.

Research Areas Immigrants and immigration
Tags Disabilities and employment Immigrant communities and racial equity Immigrant access to the safety net
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center Health Policy Center
Research Methods Data analysis Quantitative data analysis