Report: Immigrant Home Care Workers Help Solve Labor Shortage, But Face Few Paths to Citizenship

Feb 11, 2013, 12:29 ET from Institute for Women's Policy Research

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress digs into creating an improved immigration system, a report released today by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), in cooperation with Caring Across Generations, identifies solutions for increasing access to visas for immigrant in-home care workers. Immigration solutions include provisional visas for immigrants meeting certain criteria, and a policy model that allows states and the federal government to share authority for selecting economic immigrants to the United States.

The authors cite comprehensive immigration reform as a viable solution to solving the care work crisis, noting that any reform of the visa system must also be accompanied by policy changes to improve job quality for in-home care workers.

As the Baby Boom generation ages, women immigrant in-home care workers are filling a gap in home care labor for the elderly. Lack of legal immigration status leaves many vulnerable to low wages and poor working conditions. According to IWPR's analysis, the median weekly earnings for all female in-home care workers are $308, compared with $560 for all female workers in the U.S. workforce.

According to the report, in the United States:

  • Immigrants make up a disproportionate share of the in-home health care workforce at 28 percent.
  • 90 percent of in-home health care workers are women and 56 percent are from a minority racial or ethnic group.
  • One in five immigrant direct care workers are undocumented.

IWPR's second report in this series, Improving Career Opportunities for Immigrant Women In-Home Care Workers, offers several solutions to meeting the training needs of immigrant in-home care workers.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women's studies, and the public policy and public administration programs at The George Washington University.

Caring Across Generations is a campaign dedicated to transforming long-term care to ensure quality care and support and a dignified quality of life for all Americans. By transforming long-term care, our goal is to improve access to, and the affordability of, care and support services while creating new, quality jobs in home care.

SOURCE Institute for Women's Policy Research