Long-term care provider, worker groups weigh in on GOP immigration principles

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A statement of principles for immigration reform issued by Republicans in the House of Representatives is a good sign of potential legislative progress on this issue, long-term care provider and labor groups said Friday.

House GOP leaders, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), introduced the one-page “Standards for Immigration Reform” memorandum at an annual policy retreat last week. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last June, but Boehner has refused to bring that up for consideration in the House, sparking protests from reform advocates.

The statement of principles might indicate that the stalled process is again moving forward; however, the memo explicitly says the House will not vote on the Senate bill, as the immigration issue is too multifaceted to be addressed in a “single, massive piece of legislation.”

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, the nation's largest long-term care provider association, praised a temporary worker provision in the statement of principles. AHCA/NCAL has emphasized that immigrants are vital in meeting the surging demand for workers in long-term care settings.

AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson said he is “encouraged” by the principles, which “set the stage for further House action to make immigration reform a reality.”

The Service Employees International Union, which represents many long-term care workers, said the statement overall is a “step forward” toward reform. However, SEIU was sharply critical of the principles themselves, saying they would create “second-class citizens” by not offering a pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States without legal status.

President Obama last week hinted that he might consider a compromise on this issue.

“If the speaker proposes something that says right away: Folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated, we're able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here and then there's a regular process of citizenship, I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being,” Obama said in an interview that aired Friday on CNN.

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