Immigration Reform Could Limit Elder Care Workers
Proposed legislation to close the Mexican border to immigrants could hurt the elder care industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, "Immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, make up a disproportionate share of those who care for the elderly -- and the need for such workers is set to explode in the coming years."
HHS predicts that the elder-care work force, which was 1.9 million in 2000, must reach 2.7 million by 2010 and five million by 2050 in order to meet demand. The lack of job security, few benefits, high turnover rates and low wages associated with elder care deter many U.S. citizens from considering working in the field. However, immigrants "flock" to the field, the Journal reports.
A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that of the 850,000 low-skilled home-care workers in the U.S., 254,000 of them are immigrants, excluding undocumented immigrants already caring for people privately. Some groups, including the American Health Care Association and the National Association for Home Care, have lobbied Congress for a new visa that could admit 400,000 additional low-skilled workers into the nation annually, which is comparable to the number of those who already enter illegally, according to the Journal.
However, supporters of immigration reform say that closing the U.S.-Mexico border to immigrants will force pay for elder care services to increase, making it more attractive to U.S. citizens (Newman, Wall Street Journal, 7/26).