The Trump Administration announced in a proclamation that it was suspending entry for most new immigrants for 60 days – while the order exempted healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus
It is possible that the Trump Administration’s immigration suspension may prohibit the entry of home health care workers. The immigration order suspends new immigration into the U.S. for 60 days (which can be extended). Purportedly, this was done to protect American workers during the recession. The order did include an exemption for healthcare workers who are fighting the coronavirus. However, the order does not specifically address home healthcare workers; therefore, it is possible that these vital workers may fall through cracks.
Immigrant Home Healthcare Workers: By the Numbers
According to a study published in Health Affairs, immigrants account for more than 18 percent of the U.S. healthcare workforce. Indeed, in the home care workforce, immigrants account for more than 27 percent of all workers. The home care industry is struggling to find workers to service a population that is vulnerable and in need of assistance. Furthermore, immigrants typically fill the roles and shifts that U.S.-born workers do not – like night and weekend shifts. Therefore, even within a specific home care provider, they may struggle to find qualified personnel to cover all shifts.
Issues with the Order
The immigration order specifically exempts aliens coming to the U.S. on a visa for a doctor, nurse, or “other health care professional,” and it exempts immigrants coming to the U.S. to perform work that is essential to either the alleviation, recovery, or treatment of COVID-19. Ideally, home care workers should be exempt as either other health care professionals or for performing essential work combating the coronavirus. Moreover, the order may discourage health care professionals who would otherwise come to the U.S. because they cannot bring their spouse, children, or parents.
However, the Trump Administration has also created a culture of limiting immigration, if at all possible. The Trump Administration ended the DACA program without first developing a replacement. Under the administration, deportations and arrests are up, and approvals for H1-B visas, asylum seekers, and refugees are all down. Finally, the administration has consistently proposed various rules to limit immigration.
Therefore, the various federal agencies which implement this order may interpret this vague language to exclude home care workers – starving an industry already desperate for more workers.