DACA rollback could hit healthcare workforce

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President Donald Trump announced plans to phase out the program on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump announced plans to phase out the program on Tuesday.

Nearly one-fifth of people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program work in healthcare and education, potentially resulting in long-term care taking a workforce hit if the program stays on track to end, some experts say.

DACA, introduced during the Obama presidency, allowed renewable two-year periods of deferred action for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, allowing them to work in the United States legally.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced plans to phase out DACA within six months, with the intent to have Congress pass a replacement for it. Should that plan fail and protections are phased out, roughly 800,000 young adults could face deportation.

While the majority of DACA-covered workers are spread evenly across industries, the healthcare sector risks losing a significant number of workers, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Surveys have shown around one-fifth of those in the DACA program work in the education or healthcare sectors, with many working as nursing assistants or home health aides.

That's a bad sign for an industry facing an influx of consumers and a shortage of workers to care of them, according to observers.

“It's going to have a real impact on consumers,” said Paul Osterman, Ph.D., a human resources and management professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has previously forecasted a “train wreck” of long-term care worker shortages.

Osterman told the Times that rolling back DACA could be a sign that the administration is planning to scale back other immigration programs, such as temporary protected status for people coming from countries facing hardships. Many immigrants who qualify for that status gain employment in the healthcare field, experts said.