Immigration reform is an issue that currently divides our great nation, offering opportunities for positive change and for the U.S. to demonstrate its continued commitment to humanity. Immigrants have been a key to U.S. success. Each new wave of immigrants brings with it ingenuity, and cultural richness, as well as qualities common to immigrants – hard work, determination, entrepreneurship, and optimism. Studies and data indicate that Hispanic immigrants of recent decades mirror the positive qualities that have marked each wave of U.S. immigrants since the nation’s founding.
Today, these qualities are needed more than ever. The U.S. stands at a crossroads where it will need a highly trained and motivated technical, professional workforce to lead the world economy of the future, but has overall, an aging population. The young, Latino immigrant community is needed to staff the nation’s workforce. In fact, the workforce is dependent on the success of Latino youth – within only a few decades, the U.S. workforce will be 40% Latino with a burden to support the nation’s aging population, as baby boomers retire. A key area that has workforce gaps is in the medical field, where trained personnel are needed as technicians, elderly caretakers, geriatricians, general practitioners and nurses.
This report makes the following policy recommendations:
- Making immigrants eligible for Social Security based on their contributions after they have earned their naturalization;
- Facilitating access to Medicare and Medicaid for immigrants who are eligible through culturally- and linguistically- appropriate resources and support to enable their navigation and encourage their use of both insurance programs;
- Broadening the categories of immigrants considered eligible for Supplemental Security Insurance to lessen the vulnerability of the nation’s immigrants;
- Passage of the DREAM Act;
- Facilitating the entry of immigrants who seek to work in direct care;
- Facilitating a pathway to citizenship or authorized for those workers who have no workplace protections;
- Facilitating family unification;
- Facilitating the entry highly technically qualified workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through H-1B visas;
- Facilitating the entry of in-need low-skill workers.
Immigration reform represents an opportunity for the U.S. to not only capitalize on the strength, energy, skills and entrepreneurial spirit of its immigrants, but to honor its values and history as a country that has long welcomed the poor and oppressed from around the world and cares for those who have contributed to its success, especially the aging.