Most people I know – well educated, middle-upper income, professionals – don’t think that the raging immigration issue affects them. They might be passionately on one side or the other of the debate, but they don’t see it hitting home. Their home.
They are wrong.
One of the things we discussed during Tuesday’s Radical Age Movement meeting was the impact on elder care if there is a major clamp-down on undocumented workers, the backbone of not just home care & cooking in the swank conclaves of our large cities, but also the home care of dependent & elderly people in every nook & corner of our nation.
One home healthcare provider is facing their Haitian-American nursing assistants & practical nurses losing their temporary protected status in November, told they MUST return to Haiti no later than July 2019, while other staffers – dreamers – face being returned to a homeland many never knew if DACA is not restored.
It’s no surprise to anyone who’s been in a continuous care facility or nursing home that many of the workers seem to be foreign born – statistics indicate that they account for one in four “direct care” workers. Even more are hired directly by families, paid under the table for their services. As the ranks of the elderly swell with an influx of baby boomers (like me) & chronic disease/disabilities replacing death, the women who traditionally provided care has shrunk due to careers or seeking better pay & benefits.
That caregiving gap has – until now – been filled with immigrants, many undocumented.
In 2005, there were approximately 500,000 immigrants in direct care; by 2015, that had ballooned to over one million. Imagine the consequences if vast numbers of them are either unable to work or afraid of attracting ICE’s attention.
Cracking down on immigration means tearing apart the safety net these workers provide for families needing affordable care for parents who are living longer, often dealing with chronic health problems, with children who work so can’t stay home with Mom or Gran or Uncle Phil. The impact is already being felt by the disabled, elderly & their families.
The current administration as far terminated Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Haitians, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans. Other nationalities are expected to follow. America is no longer considered a safe harbor by immigrants, whether legal or undocumented.
Almost 11,000 direct care workers are here from largely Muslim countries – how does the travel ban affect them, families denied permission to join them. And there are those DACA members facing deportation.
If the president gets his wish & we reduce the number of legal immigrants, deport all the undocumented & return DACA eligible to their homelands, then they are not the only ones who will suffer uncertain, scary fates. You might, too.