SSN Commentary

‘Unskilled’ Immigrants Help to Ease the Pain of Dying Americans

Policy field

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Rutgers University

Originally published as "‘Unskilled’ Immigrants Help to Ease the Pain of Dying Americans," The Conversation, June 25, 2019.

President Trump wants the U.S. immigration system to shift away from family-based to skills-based migration.

This move would prioritize bringing in those who are highly educated and skilled, to the exclusion of unskilled immigrant workers.

However, some forms of “unskilled” care work for seniors are rapidly on the rise, leading experts to worry about labor shortfalls in these areas as baby boomers age.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 27 million people will require long-term care in 2050, double the number that needed it in 2000.

My research is full of stories where care workers guide patients’ family members to feel care for and connection with the dying and the dead. I’ve interviewed 62 care workers and 25 families from 2014 to 2016, as described in my book, “The New American Servitude.”