When President Trump announced on Tuesday that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after a 6-month delay, the news hit the home health care industry especially hard. The program, which protects young undocumented adults from being deported from the United States, is actually full of home health care workers.
In an industry where workers are already in short supply, deporting tens of thousands of caregivers is an “unwelcome development,” according to a New York Times article.
DACA shields roughly 800,000 adults, referred to as “dreamers,” from deportation, and they receive temporary work and study permits through the program. It was put in place through executive order by President Obama in 2012 after Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and applies to people who were brought to the U.S. as children and were under the age of 31 as of June 2012, the Times summarized.
Young adults in the program have a positive track record, with 91% employed and 100% without a criminal record. However, roughly one-fifth of the group works in the health care and education sector, according to the Times, putting these sectors at risk of losing workers if they are deported, and “suggesting a potential loss of tens of thousands of workers from in-demand job categories like home health aide and nursing assistant,” the Times article reads.
The timing of the DACA disruption comes as the home health care industry is facing a caregiver shortage; projections reveal that this sector will need significantly more workers in the coming years to keep up with the demand. In addition, the sector is seeing an increase in demand for Spanish-speaking caregivers to meet the increase it diverse clientele.
What’s more, 28% of home health care aides are immigrants, according to data from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, Inc. (PHI), a national research and consulting organization serving the direct care workforce.
“The health care field’s reliance on immigrant labor makes it particularly vulnerable,” the article reads.
DACA adults may also be prime candidates for occupations like home health care aides or nursing assistants, as these fields don’t require a college degree. Roughly half of dreamers are still in school and more than two-thirds have less than a bachelor’s degree, the Times reports, citing University of California San Diego statistics.
Without meeting the coming demands for more caregivers, prices could rise, the Times argues. While this could potentially drive up the wages for home care workers, the shortage could also balloon Medicaid costs and force older adults out of their homes into institutional care, according to the article.
Written by Amy Baxter