Farmworkers harvest zucchini on April 1, 2020, in Florida City, Florida.

Trump is threatening to block immigration over coronavirus. But immigrants are on the frontlines of the pandemic

Updated 12:55 PM ET, Tue April 21, 2020

While details about Trump's plans remain unclear, we do know a lot about the role immigrants have been playing on the frontlines during the pandemic.
Foreign-born workers make up about 17% of the US civilian labor force. But they're an even bigger part of the workforce in many jobs that are key to fighting the virus and keeping the country afloat, according to a recent analysis by the Migration Policy Institute. Immigrants are also likely to be disproportionately impacted by layoffs, the institute said.
Here's a look at some key statistics about immigrant workers in the United States from that analysis and why these numbers matter right now:

6.3 million immigrants hold jobs that are key to fighting coronavirus

The Migration Policy Institute used 2018 census data to crunch the numbers.
Their estimate: 6,259,000 immigrants are working in jobs on the frontlines of the fight against coronavirus, including health care and social services; grocery stories, pharmacies and gas stations; manufacturing of food, medicine, soap and cleaning agents; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; bus, metro and taxi drivers; postal service workers; and scientific research and development.

1 in 4 doctors in the US are immigrants

Across the United States, 29% of all physicians are immigrants. That's a significant number. And there's more to the story that this data point doesn't capture. In many rural communities, immigrant doctors are providing crucial medical care.

38% of home health aides are immigrants

The need for home health care is growing as the US population gets older. And a large percentage of home health care workers are immigrants. Experts have warned that if immigrants lose work permits, the shortage in home health aides will become even more severe.

22% of workers in the US food industry are immigrants

Immigrants play an "outsized role in food production," according to MPI, and represent a far larger share of workers in certain occupations.
Nearly a third of agriculture workers nationwide are foreign-born, according to census data. But experts caution official data likely doesn't provide a complete picture of all the country's agriculture workers, because many are undocumented and not necessarily included in those tallies.
But the official numbers that do exist show immigrants play a big part in getting food on America's tables.

37% of meat processing industry workers are immigrants