We don’t yet know what the full impact of President Trump’s immigration enforcement policy changes will be, but the outlook is stark. According to the New York Times, “President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.” Millions of immigrants are potentially affected.
Little attention is being paid at the moment to what the consequences of sweeping deportations might be for America’s seniors. There is a crying need for data on how many seniors are being cared for by undocumented immigrants. Seniors in assisted living facilities and nursing homes could suffer due to staff shortages. How many seniors trying to age in place are being helped by companions who are undocumented? What will these seniors do when their companions are suddenly gone? Supermarkets, restaurants, bus services, and taxi companies used by seniors may have difficulty operating.
Americans of all ages in several cities discovered the vital role immigrants play in the service sector on February 16, the “Day Without Immigrants.” That day could soon become the new reality nationwide.
When immigrants are no longer available to care for seniors or provide critical services, where will the burden fall? Most likely on the children — the sandwich generation already stretched to the limit.
The country, and seniors in particular — along with their children — would have benefited from a deeper discussion of the impact increased deportations will have, long before the Trump deportation policy changes were suddenly announced.