Immigration rallies force balancing act
In a dramatic show of political muscle, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants held rallies last month in nearly 100 cities. Many waved U.S. flags while voicing pride in their adopted country and denouncing politicians who have likened them to criminals.The events have put nursing home officials in a ticklish position. The industry would clearly benefit if some of its estimated 100,000 unfilled nursing positions were opened to illegal immigrants. Yet, the industry does not want to be positioned as soft on border security.
"At the end of the day, we believe reasonable compromises can be achieved," stated Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association.
Most protesters took dead aim at a House of Representatives bill that would extend walls built along the U.S.-Mexico border and make felons of an estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.
There is little expectation new immigration laws will be crafted before November's elections.
AHCA stresses compromise
The Senate failed to vote on a measure aimed at granting amnesty to most of the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants, as of press time. The issue is an awkward one for providers, who find themselves facing unprecedented nursing staff shortages.
"The passion behind this important national debate is understandable and warranted — but at the end of the day, we believe reasonable compromises can be achieved," stated Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association.
Yarwood said any law that emerges must balance border security with the nation's economic interests.
"If a U.S. employer is offering a job American citizens are not willing or available to take, we should welcome into our country a person who will fill that job — especially a job that has the capacity to improve the health and well-being of our seniors and persons with disabilities," he said.
Failure to approve the bill, which would create a temporary worker program proposed by President Bush, could derail major changes in immigration laws for this year.