This past year, the government made many changes to the US immigration policies. Those changes impacted many demographics, including the elderly. Find out how the policies changed and how they affected the elderly.
Changes in Immigration Policies
Before you understand how immigration changes affected the elderly, you need to understand the changes that occurred. For one, there was a push to end illegal immigration. Throughout the US, ICE raids rounded up immigrants and sent many illegal immigrants back home. During raids, ICE agents went into homes and businesses looking for illegal immigrants. The raids impacted thousands of individuals across the US.
What is TPS?
However, illegal immigrants were not the only target. Trump took a firm stance against legal immigration as well. He ended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) policy for those from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This leaves thousands of Haitians and other immigrants with an uncertain future. They either need to head back to their countries or face deportation.
Although the elderly are affected by all of the immigration policies, the change in TPS is one of the most devastating. For that reason, it’s important to understand TPS. The policy is a humanitarian program. It came into play in 2010, after an earthquake devastated Haiti.
TPS allowed Haitians to legally come into the US and work. Currently, about 59,000 Haitians live in the US under TPS. Most of them work in the healthcare industry for low wages. Often, they work as nursing assistants or home health aides.
After ending TPS for Haitians, Trump gave them until July 2019 to remain in the country. Taking away TPS means that they have no legal status in the country. If the individuals under TPS don’t leave willingly, they will be deported.
Another change came in the form of a travel ban. Thousands of individuals were affected by his travel ban. By preventing immigrants from Somalia and Iran from coming into the US, Trump further limited immigration. He also took a strong stance against immigration from Mexico. His relentless push to build a border wall strained the Mexican-American relationship. It’s likely that this decreased immigration from Mexico.
In general, immigrants don’t feel welcomed in the US. Trump’s harsh policies make immigrants less likely to come into the country. They worry that they will face deportation and other challenges. While some view this as a good thing, it can hurt US citizens. Specifically, it can hurt the elderly. Fewer immigrants mean fewer healthcare workers. As the number of legal immigrants decreases, more elderly individuals are left without care.
Hurting the Elderly
You might think that the new immigration policies would hurt elderly immigrants. However, it also hurts elderly citizens. It all comes back to the healthcare industry.
The healthcare industry in the US needs workers. In the home health aide industry and assisted living, this is particularly true. Many healthcare agencies need to rely on immigrants to fill positions. Typically, home health aides make low wages. Yet, they also have challenging jobs. In the job, there is a high rate of injury. Additionally, the hours tend to be long. Many US citizens are unwilling to take these jobs. If they do, they tend to quit within a short time.
For this reason, nursing facilities and health care agencies rely on immigrants. In Massachusetts, about 4,300 individuals work for nursing facilities. Without immigrants, the elderly have no one to care for them. In Massachusetts, about one in seven certified nursing assistant positions are vacant. Without TPS allowing Haitians to work here, that number could be even higher.
A Countrywide Shortage
Massachusetts isn’t the only state with a healthcare worker shortage. In the US, about one million immigrants work as home health aides, certified nursing assistants, or personal care attendants. Approximately 25% of the workforce consists of immigrants. With new immigration policies, that number could dwindle.
With a median wage of $10.66, home health aides don’t make much money. Even fast food employees tend to make more money than home health aides. There’s little incentive for people to remain in the industry. There’s minimal training, low pay, and long days.
Additionally, there is an increasing population of elderly individuals. Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. While there are more elderly, there are not enough healthcare workers. Trump’s immigration policies make it even more difficult to fill those positions.
Challenges to Immigrants
With Trump in office, immigrants face new challenges every day. Many immigrants have already left the US in fear of the new policies. Others live every day in fear, worrying about deportation. In the coming years, there could be more changes to US immigration policies.
If you are not a US citizen, then you need help. You should work with an immigration lawyer to obtain your legal status in the country. Additionally, you could also fight deportation. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.