Progressives, Employers Say DACA Migrants Are ‘Crucial’ for Fighting Coronavirus

immigrant DACA donald trump
AP/Jose Luis Magana

Pro-migration advocates say the nation will lose up to 200,000 crucial workers in the coronavirus fight if President Donald Trump does not reverse his opposition to the 2012 Deferred Amnesty for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty given to roughly 750,000 younger illegals.

But the dramatic claim is undermined by rival studies that show few DACA migrants work in the healthcare sector and that many more American healthcare professionals can be pulled off the sidelines to help suppress the dangerous epidemic.

“DACA recipients simply do not comprise large a share of workers, and that is certainly true in a huge sector of the economy like health care,” says an April 7 study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

“The best augment for legalizing DACA recipients is that they came [to the United States] at young ages, not that they play a big role in fighting the epidemic,” author Steve Camarota wrote to Breitbart News.

U.S. healthcare employers are disregarding many sidelined American professionals and qualified legal immigrants who can be mobilized in an emergency, according to an April 2020 report by a pro-migration group, the Migration Policy Institute:

Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis finds another 263,000 [legal and illegal] immigrants and refugees with undergraduate degrees in health-related fields are either relegated to low-paying jobs that require significantly less education or are out of work.

Along with 846,000 U.S.-born adults whose health-related college degrees are similarly underutilized—a phenomenon MPI has long referred to as “brain waste”— these immigrants represent a potentially important source of staff for the U.S. health corps.

The MPI study does not say how many of the 263,000 migrants with undergraduate healthcare degrees are legal or illegal. However, the vast majority of the 263,000 are likely to be legal immigrants.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce soon if the 2o12 DACA amnesty was legal. Trump has already offered to accept some form of amnesty for the DACA migrants in exchange for concessions from Democrats. The concessions may include curbs on the illegal migration of blue collar workers into the U.S economy — but are not expected to include curbs on the lucrative white-collar migration sought by high-tech companies and investors. 

The pro-migration Center for American Progress is leading the claim that the DACA migrants are crucial for the nation’s health security. 

“Across the country, 202,500 DACA recipients are working to protect the health and safety of Americans as the country confronts COVID-19,” CAP says in an April 6 report:

They are ensuring that children are still being educated; food is still being grown, packaged, cooked, shipped, and put on the shelves of grocery stores; patients are being cared for; and much more. DACA recipients, for example, are doctors and medical studentsputting their own health and safety on the line. They are also teachers, striving to provide a sense of well-being and continuity to America’s youngest generation remotely. Such roles are crucial at a time when the United States is facing a critical shortage of workers in both professions.

The New York Times broadcast a similar claim in an April 2 op-ed by hospital executives, who declared:

As executives responsible for the legal affairs of major hospitals and lawyers working in Covid-19 hot spots, we know how crucial it is to have every available front-line medical worker fighting this pandemic.

But 29,000 of those workers are being threatened with deportation by the Trump administration. They have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

New data from the Center for American Progress reveals that the DACA-recipient health care work force includes more than 6,000 diagnosing and treating practitioners, including respiratory therapists, physicians assistants and nurses; some 8,000 health aides, including nursing assistants and orderlies; more than 7,000 other health care support workers; and some 5,500 health technologists and technicians.

More than 150,000 other DACA recipients work in other industries that we depend on right now, including grocery stores, drugstores, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, and custodial and food service.

Only 200 of the DACA migrants are either doctors or trainee doctors, but the NYT authors urged Trump and his deputies to welcome the DACA migrants, saying:

If the Supreme Court allows the termination of DACA during this pandemic, the work of our hospitals will suffer a critical blow at exactly the moment when we can least afford it. At a time when the importance — and scarcity — of our medical resources has never been clearer, neither our institutions nor the nation can afford a disruption to the health care work force. We desperately need all hands on deck for this fight.

A precursor 2017 CAP study has been accepted, uncritically, by many establishment media outlets. For example, the New York Times’ Adam Liptak relied on the CAP study when he wrote March 27:

Aldo Martinez, a paramedic in Fort Myers, Fla., is one of about 27,000 young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who work in health care, many of them on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are part of the work force,” he said. “A great amount of us are considered essential — janitors, workers in grocery stores, people like myself, nurses, doctors. All of us are working toward protecting the public. If we are unable to do that, we will have an even harder time trying to deal with this pandemic.”

No matter how hard-working DACA migrants are, or the beneficial impact of their individual contributions, they comprise less than one percent of all U.S. healthcare workers, said Camarota.

They are also far outnumbered by the huge population of sidelined American healthcare workers, he added.

“Based on the occupations CAP reported in their table, 29,000 (or 28,2000) [DACA healthcare workers] translates to just 0.2% of the nation’s 14.5 million health care workers, as CAP defines it,” Camarota wrote.

He continued:

Probably the two occupations that seem the most relevant to combating the Wuhan Virus are registered nurses and health technologists and technicians, which includes licensed practical nurses and jobs like pharmacy technicians.  The ACS shows that there are 3.3 million registered nurses working in the country and 3 million technologists and technicians, making DACA recipients just 0.1% and 0.2% of these occupations respectively.  Again, even assuming CAP’s estimates are correct, DACA recipients in the most relevant occupations are a miniscule share of workers.

Moreover, the DACA migrants are far outnumbered by non-working Amerian healthcare professionals — including legal immigrants — who can be recruited for the emergency, especially if employers offer them bonus because of the health risk, he said:

The Census data also shows there were 41,000 unemployed registered nurses and 67,000 unemployment technicians in 2018.  In addition, there were 860,000 nurses and technicians who are out of the labor force entirely, but who reported having worked in these fields in the prior five years.  So there is a huge pool of people who can be drawn upon if a few thousand DACA nurses and technicians were deported.

Even without much training, many laid-off Americans and legal immigrants can be hired to perform the jobs held by most of the DACA immigrants, he added:

Their estimates also show that nearly one third of the DACA workers they identify are home health and personal care aides and related occupations.  The Bureau of Labor Statics reports that becoming a health care aid requires only a high school education and sometimes not even that. Moreover, at a time when unemployment is increasing massively among the less-educated, replacing a few thousand health care aids, whose primary responsibility is typically helping the elderly or disabled dress and bath, hardly seems difficult, if it came to that. 

The pro-migration MPI group also pointed out that the nation’s healthcare sector underuses many healthcare graduates — both American born and legal immigrants –:

There are 1.5 million immigrants already employed in the U.S. health-care system as doctors, registered nurses, and pharmacists. At the same time, Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis finds another 263,000 immigrants and refugees with undergraduate degrees in health-related fields are either relegated to low-paying jobs that require significantly less education or are out of work. Along with 846,000 U.S.-born adults whose health-related college degrees are similarly underutilized—a phenomenon MPI has long referred to as “brain waste”— these immigrants represent a potentially important source of staff for the U.S. health corps. And because these immigrants tend to be younger than their U.S.-born counterparts, they represent an important pool of responders to a disease that is particularly dangerous for those 60 and older.

MPI has long argued that many American graduates are sidelined.

In a 2014 report, titled “Brain Weste in the U.S. Workforce,” the institute reported that roughly 17 percent of American college graduates do not have jobs that match their skills. That percentage added up to 6.3 million Americans were “affected by brain waste,” said the report, alongside roughly 1.6 million’ brain waste” legal or illegal immigrants.

During the coronavirus crisis, California’s governor has tried to tap into his state’s “brain waste” with a new “Health Corps” to help save sick Americans. CNBC reported March 31:

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said 25,000 people signed up for the state’s new Health Corps site, in one day. The state is now vetting the licenses, specialties and looking to place eligible healthcare workers in roles at facilities where they are most needed throughout California.

Health Corps is seeking help from licensed doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, dentists, paramedics and EMTs, pharmacists and others

When discussing immigration in general or illegal immigration in particular, basic economic and demographic facts should be acknowledged,” Camarota wrote.

“Illegal immigrants are heavily concentrated in construction, agriculture, cleaning and maintenance, and hospitality related occupations — not health care,” he said, adding:

 There are currently 650,000 active recipients of DACA [and] … The total U.S. workforce before the Wuhan Virus hit was more than 160 million.





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