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President Trump's immigration plan could affect the elderly and the disabled

She runs the Bethany Health Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, and relies on newcomers from Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries to care for elderly residents. At least 60% of its staff is composed of immigrant women and is struggling to find people to fill more than 20 vacancies in long-term care facilities and home care services.

"For me, I would be lost without the immigrants," McCarthy said, noting that there are more than 2,700 vacancies for licensed practical nurses in the state. "They are the backbone of my staff, we could serve many more people, but we can not recruit staff."

Immigrants account for more than a quarter of workers directly caring for the elderly and disabled, including nursing home care aides, home health aides and personal care attendants, as well as 30.3% of housekeepers and housekeepers in a retirement home, according to a recent report. Harvard University study published in Health Affairs. They provide convenient and paid care to more than 13 million Americans.
The administration has repeatedly urged Congress to change the country's immigration policy into a policy based on merit, rather than on family ties. Such a system would give priority to highly skilled workers, which advocates believe would reduce immigration rates and minimize the reliance of newcomers on public assistance.
Related: The United States fails to meet the demand for medical aides, nurses and doctors

Such a decision, however, will exacerbate the existing workforce shortage and is expected to worsen as America ages, industry experts say.

"We are going to need immigrants." "Whether or not the channel of these workers for home care is a big issue," said William Dombi, president of the National Association of home care and palliative care, which has about 2,700 agencies.

His group was unable to attend a meeting with Trump administration officials, although he spoke to congressional staff members, he said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home-based caregivers and caregivers are expected to be among the fastest-growing jobs between 2016 and 2026, although they are also the lowest-paid jobs on the list. typically $ 24,000 a year.

The good economy and the tight labor market make it difficult to recruit and retain staff because they have more jobs, said Phil Bongiorno, executive director of the American Home Care Association, which represents agencies providing personal care aides. Anything that limits the influx of potential staff will only make the country more competitive, he said.

Leah Zallman, co-author of the Harvard study, is expected to see a sharp increase in the number of home-care and personal care aides, as well as nurses in nursing homes. primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, a social security system in Massachusetts.

"The series of policies proposed by Trump to reduce the number of low-skilled workers in this country is totally at odds with our demographic change," she said. "We simply do not have the young and working-age population we need to care for the elderly, and these policies will leave millions of elderly and disabled people without care."

The American Health Care Association, which represents more than 13,700 nursing homes and non-profit long-term care centers, advocates for legislation to increase the current ceiling on the number of immigrants who can come to Canada. United States – and not only for highly skilled professionals, such as engineers and data scientists, said Clif Porter, senior vice president of the group for government relations.

"Clearly, there is a role for what I would call low-tech workers," Porter said. "Frankly, any policy that encourages the lifting of these caps will help us greatly in meeting the needs of our sector."

Overall, however, he believes the battle can be daunting with decision makers.

"There has been a lack of recognition that we have an influx of explosive explosives from old people and people who will need care in the field," he said. "There has not been much thoughtful policy that essentially increases the type of workers we need."

In addition, many immigrants in entry-level health care jobs are getting more skilled jobs, McCarthy said.

"When people come here, they may start doing laundry and cleaning, but while they're here they go to school," she said. "They become CNAs [certified nursing assistants] and then nurses. That's how it usually happens for us. "

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