WASHINGTON – The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on immigrants, especially those without documents, are hard to determine because most reporting doesn’t include immigration status, several experts said on Tuesday.

Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at The George Washington University, indicated that most data collection does not take immigration status into account.

“The problem is, they have some basic information, gender, age, race, ethnicity they don’t capture immigration status, typically speaking,” Ku said during a panel discussion at the Migration Policy Institute. “Reporting of immigration status has become politically difficult within the past two years.”

The comments were made during a virtual panel discussion held by the Migration Policy Institute on the pandemic’s impact on immigrant communities.

Though immigration advocates argue that undocumented immigrants pay taxes and should benefit from government stimulus packages during the pandemic as a result, others disagree.

“In that situation, they’re actually receiving money from the Federal Treasury,” said Andrew Arthur, Resident Fellow in Law and Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies. “It is appropriate for the United States government to limit the population of individuals to whom they give that money to. The people of the United States, and by that I mean not just U.S. citizens, but also lawful permanent residents, asylees, refugees and other immigrants who are lawfully present in this country.”

Haeyoung Yoon, Senior Policy Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Senior Policy Advisor of Care in Action closed out the discussion with a call for unity.

“We’ve made a lot of progress to say that the pandemic has laid bare the longstanding inequities in our country, racial, economic and gender inequities,” Yoon said, “We really have to lean into the fact that the pandemic has taught us that we are interdependent.”