About Me

My photo
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Our Workforce Needs More Immigrants

Last week, among a flurry of other important Biden executive orders, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a long-pending order on standards and staffing ratios in nursing homes. Along with other mandates, the order requires that all nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid "provide residents with a minimum total of 3.48 hours of nursing care per day, which includes at least 0.55 hours of care from a registered nurse per resident per day, and 2.45 hours of care from a nurse aide per resident per day," and that they "develop a staffing plan to maximize recruitment and retention." Also last week, Biden came under renewed pressure to extend work permits not just for the several hundred thousand asylum seekers clogging shelters in many cities, as he did earlier this month, but to the much larger number of undocumented migrants, estimated at around ten million, who are not permitted to work legally. The American Business Immigration Coalition, representing major associations that rely on immigrant workers, joined by UNITE HERE Local 1, issued a statement last Wednesday, calling on Biden to issue permits for all undocumented immigrants. Executive director Rebecca Shi said, "We are inspired by President Biden granting work permits to new migrants and ask that he extends the same dignity of a legal work permit to long term residents, including spouses of U.S. citizens." These two stories are, of course, linked. The vast majority of nursing home workers, especially nurse aides, are immigrants. There are already extreme shortages, causing some nursing homes to close, even without the new and long-overdue standards. Some of the shortages are due to the low pay, but even with better pay, nurse aides are in short supply. The same is true of the restaurant industry, where some restaurants have limited hours or have closed because they can’t find enough workers. A survey by the National Restaurant Association earlier this year found that 87 percent of restaurants say they are operating with insufficient staff. Here too, immigrants make up a high percentage of workers. The fact is that America needs more immigrants in our workforce, not fewer. Even with the enforcement crackdown, many immigrants work illegally, but they risk being deported. A more generous and comprehensive policy of work permits for immigrants would be a red flag to all the haters, who blame Biden for America’s porous Southern border. But that animus would be offset by support from business and immigrant communities. There are now more than 20 million foreign-born naturalized citizens in the U.S. legally, and they can vote. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that immigrants will increase GDP by seven trillion dollars over the next decade. Work permits for undocumented migrants would be very smart economics. It would provide more workers in occupations experiencing shortages, damp down inflationary pressures, and improve the quality of services. In human terms, it would be the right thing to do.

No comments: