The University of Texas at Austin
  • The Politics of Immigration Puts Our Elders at Risk

    By Jacqueline Angel, Professor of Sociology & Public Affairs
    Published: Aug. 22
    I Stock

    Most Americans are aware of the heated political debate about the influx of unaccompanied migrant children caught at the southwest border. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has called this an “urgent humanitarian situation.” But, there is another pressing crisis related to immigration policy: the undermining of the nation’s elder-care systems.

    It’s surprising that the issue has fallen under the radar. Our nation is dependent on U.S.-born Latinos and immigrants from Latin America to sustain a robust economy. Although Latino workers contribute millions in federal income, property, sales and excise taxes that support American retirees, they have remained outside of the economic and social mainstream.

    This fact has serious implications for both the young and the old, especially as the Latino population ages rapidly along with the rest of the population. Nationwide, and particularly in Texas, a convergence of increasing numbers of culturally distinct immigrant elderly people and shrinking numbers of working-age people is influencing who will care for older adults in years to come.

    Some evidence suggests states such as Texas and California, with high proportions of Latino immigrants, will confront major challenges of coping with intergenerational interests in an age-ethnically stratified society. The growing working-age Latino population will bear much of the retirement cost of the non-Latino white population. As the result of the electoral clout of English-speaking non-Latino white retirees, we should anticipate widespread support for initiatives that disproportionately affect immigrants of Mexican descent. Proposals for tougher border security measures along the U.S.-Mexico border are just one example of congressional action to limit unlawful immigration. Still, the Republican leadership in Congress recognizes that the current immigration system is broken, but has no plan for giving legal status to the 11 million undocumented workers in the nation until the midterm elections are over.

    To understand the politics of comprehensive immigration reform and its history, look at California during the 1990s. Approval ratings soared for Gov. Pete Wilson as a result of the passage of laws that denied immigrants access to health and economic benefits, abolished affirmative action/racial quotas and restricted bilingual education. Clearly these types of state legislative proposals are aimed at restricting or eliminating program eligibility and some essential health benefits, including state-funded social services supporting elderly immigrants.

    Elderly Latinos are far less likely than non-Latinos to enter a nursing home, and as result, most older Mexican Americans receive long-term care in the community, relying exclusively on unpaid family caregivers. Such an economic obligation represents only one of the potential responsibilities that family caregivers assume. It will be essential to close the educational gaps between Latinos and non-Latino whites in the future to improve their financial outlook.

    Who, then, will care for us as we grow old and frail? At the federal level, it is likely that nothing will be done until after November. But at the state and local levels, some new developments are promising. For example, the Texas Legislature is working to find new ways to provide culturally appropriate care for frail and disabled persons. In June, the Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee convened to study the implementation of certain provisions in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The hearing made recommendations for expanding and improving the delivery of Medicaid long-term care services.

    As Texas and other states move forward, it will be important to determine how experiments in community-based long-term care, such as the PACE model, could be introduced to local communities. PACE provides a continuum of community-based services in El Paso, Amarillo and Lubbock for individuals age 55 or older who need nursing home care. Although Texas seniors prefer to live safely in the community for as long as possible, many cities are without these options. We have an opportunity to develop innovative initiatives to reduce caregiver burden for the most vulnerable seniors, including Latino immigrant families. Creating a model adapted to the local community of ethnically disadvantaged elders is a step in the right direction. Our immediate goal should be to consider the best use of Medicaid funding for our families and to leave politics aside.

    Jacqueline Angel is a professor of sociology and public affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Her most recent book, co-authored with Ronald Angel, is “Latinos in an Aging World” (Rutledge).

    A version of this op-ed appeared in the Corpus Christi Caller Times and Beaumont Enterprise, among others.

    Texas Perspectives disclaimer

    • Quote 2
      John Christian said on Aug. 27 at 1:14 p.m.
      ............I grew up as an American in Mexico, but that was in a Mexico that was far different than today...there was more freedom, etc. I would probably still be there, but I don't think they want any foreigners there today, not like before...there is so much that is offered there in the ways of food and other things, but it has changed immensely -- there are so many ambiguities that confronts one these days...the doors should swing both ways, but they don't...the same laws, situations, and feelings that are here are there on the other side also: the same biases, etc. The southern border of Mexico is one tough place where 1000s have simply disappeared and vanished. Period. Hardly anyone speaks of these hardly sees any peoples of African descent there when there used to be millions there...what I notice in Austin and on this campus these days is a spirit of diversity in ethnicity...of cross marriages, like in California...why must if be just one ethnic group or tribe...when there are many around the planet...why should some groups get receive more favoritism over others...and especially what of our own native American peoples here in this country as they are some of the very poorest and disadvantaged as they are treated as non citizens by many as they are also treated or seen as The Forgotten is so sad, what about the Filipinos and the other people of this planet...this is so sad, it almost makes one weep silently...there are more ways and languages than just of the mainstream over-bearing cultures...everything must be so pat, rationally-planned, with scarcely a mention or drop of true democracy, of just a few fortunate elite when the teeming masses are pushed aside and when we find only basically two types of citizens -- those who have and those who have not and where only some truly have more opportunities than others...this is what is so sad -- we go more for quantity and imprisonment than for quality, opportunity, and freedom...where only the very elite can truly survive...when voices of many are scarcely heard...
    • Quote 2
      Jeremy said on Aug. 25 at 8:43 a.m.
      "The notion of ever more old people needing ever more young people, who will in turn grow old and need even more young people, and so on ad infinitum, is an obvious ecological Ponzi scheme." -David Attenborough, naturalist.
    • Quote 2
      AJ said on Aug. 23 at 2:23 p.m.
      "Our nation is dependent on U.S.-born Latinos and immigrants from Latin America to sustain a robust economy." Parts of the nation do not have a significant population of "U.S.-born Latinos and immigrants from Latin America." If their economy is robust, this proves that it is not necessary to have a particular ethnicity in order for capitalism to work. All of the jobs Americans supposedly won't do are done by Americans there. Are you seriously arguing that a particular ethnicity is essential to an economic system? No economic theory says that.
    • Quote 2
      TeaPartyImmigrationCoalition said on Aug. 23 at 8:32 a.m.
      The article is full of "fact holes". That is, there are many government and other studies that belie the main thrust of this story. Here is the first one: rather than contributing to our economy, there is a net drain on our economy. Because we have become a welfare state, 57% of illegal alien families collect welfare, and, when they do so, they usually (if not always) collect more than once. We have evidence of up to 27 social security numbers for one individual! Second, the Certified Nurse Assistants who mainly work nursing homes are from all races: Blacks, Whites, Asian, various Latino and Caribbean groups. Third, Since it is an established fact that illegal aliens have stolen 25% +/- of manufacturing and construction jobs, Real Americans have been forced involuntarily onto welfare rolls. We have up to 60 million Americans who want full time work who are either not working in their field of expertise, working part time or not working at all. While we have more, the facts all point to the fact that illegal aliens hurt America. Whether its stealing our jobs, raping our women, molesting our children, stealing our treasury or killing our people, every shred of real evidence that we know of points in this direction. Our solution is mandatory E Verify with criminal penalties for employers and government workers who fail to use the system. Once this is accomplished, we can talk about any remaining need for additional workers. Tea Party Immigration Coalition. see our Facebook page.
    • Quote 2
      Stephen said on Aug. 23 at 7:57 a.m.
      If you didn't have kids or you have taught your kids to be selfish pigs, tough luck. You are not inflicting more unsustainable mass immigration on the rest of us.
    • Quote 2
      Dave Francis said on Aug. 22 at 11:34 a.m.
      Dangerous surge of illegal aliens and more to come? Hector Garza, a spokesman for a local National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), has disclosed a startling development in the federal government's efforts to deal with the border surge: The aliens who are getting released on their own recognizance are being allowed to board and travel commercial airliners by simply showing their ‘Notice to Appear’ forms. This is not the CBP [Customs and Border Protection] or another federal agency renting or leasing an aircraft, these are the same planes that the American public uses for domestic travel. This just adds insult to injury. Not only are we releasing unknown illegal aliens onto American streets, but we are allowing them to travel commercially using paperwork that could easily be reproduced or manipulated on any home computer. The ‘Notice to Appear’ form has no photo; anyone can make one and manipulate one. They do not have any security features, no watermark, nothing. They are simply printed on standard copy paper based on the information the illegal alien says is the truth. We do not know who these people are, we often have to solely rely on who they say they are, where they say they came from, and the history they say they have. We know nothing about most of them, ICE releases them into the American public, and now they are boarding aircraft at will with a simple paper document that anyone can easily alter or reproduce themselves. These assertions have led to the NBPC issuing this statement: The National Border Patrol Council adamantly opposes the decision of DHS to release the illegal aliens who have been transported from the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector to other locations for processing. The lack of consequences has furthered this crisis and will only continue to do so. The fact that TSA is accepting the I-862 (Notice to Appear) as a form of identification and allowing illegal aliens to travel commercially shows just how little regard the federal government has for its own immigration laws. Garza went on to highlight why this development is so troubling: "The threat this poses from terrorists upon the American people is absolutely unacceptable. Central Americans are not the only people crossing our border and being released. Does anyone actually think those cartels and others criminal or possible terrorist organizations are not taking advantage of the fact that we have to leave our border wide open while we reassigning the majority of our agents to process family units and minors? Of course this situation is being exploited by such threats." After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, one of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was that those wishing to board planes needed a passport or a REAL ID-compatible U.S. Drivers license. This development is in direct contravention to those recommendations. These are some of the most no-exception laws, to address enforcement at the Southern border and interior control. These policies need to be employed to stop the flow of illegal aliens, that’s if the majority of yellow old guard cowards in the House of Representatives use their power to cut of the funding purse to this monstrous sized Obama government, DACA and any future Amnesties without the full will of the people and not pandering to any sized business welfare. 1. Revive the 2006 Secure Fence Act and build the double layer fencing, complete with concertina razor wire. Hundreds of miles are vacant of any barrier. It was killed by prior Republican Senator Kay bailey Hutchison of Texas by adding a non-escapable amendment to the 2006 bill. Whereas giving complete control to Homeland Security, ruling out any funds to deliver the 700 miles of two fences, separated by an all weather track way. An in between no-mans land where illegal aliens would be caught and detained for immediate deportation. 2. Strengthen the border with National Guard and add more Border Patrol Agents permanently. 3. Position more internal ICE agents to audit employers, instead of 5000 we have now for all of the United States. 4. Modify the law so illegal entry into the US becomes a Felony. 5. Issue a National digital Social Security Card for voting and to identify that person. 6. Revisit the 14th amendment, thus amending the automatic citizen law, so ONLY the babies of US citizens can claim this right; (A huge expenditure for taxpayers.) Once here parents can stay. This amendment has been financially exploited for decades, and Sen. Harry Reid refuses to discuss a change, even though the process originates from a time of slavery for descendants could claim citizenship. Pregnant women who arrive by aircraft masquerading as a welfare tourists to take advantage of a hospitals in delivering a child, should be reported to ICE. 7. Formulate a new law so that employers who purposely hire illegal aliens will face federal incarceration. Cronyism is broadly the main trouble when it comes to ushering in legal and illegal immigrants into the US. Buying a large majority of our politicians by K Street corporations has long been a harbinger of Americans losing their jobs to cheap working foreigners. 8. Revise the 2006 human trafficking act, so it’s aligned with Mexico and Canadians. 9. Commence a uniform Guest worker program, with entry and exit permission permits and unless mitigating circumstances are available, overstays have committed a felony. 10. Merely legal immigrants with Special high level skills (STEMS) should be admitted permanently as the immigration policies in industrialized nations. 11. MUST LEARN ENGLISH TO IMMIGRATE. 12. There should be no immunity of any federal employee to be excused from accountability for wrongdoing and should be fined, imprisoned or both. IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY UNDER OBAMA RULE, check this site that has the phone Numbers and Mailing Addresses of Members of Congress at: www.contactingthecongress/ to demand an end to illegal immigration, the dismantling of our laws, sovereignty, citizen rights and even our military, which is protection against our enemies foreign an domestic. Illegal Immigration has become a top priority for Americans, because they see its impact on the sterile economy and lost jobs. Large corporations and big business are laying-off birthright, naturalized citizens and green card holders, making an avenue for lower paid illegal aliens. This is the number for the central switchboard for every member of Congress to address your objections at 800-224-3121. READ THE REAL FACTS AND POLL AT THE THIS POLLING SITE YOU WILL AT LEAST GET THE TRUTH. If you have cable news watch their 7/24 broadcast without biased or spin unlike the majority of major media. Go to One American News Network at
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