Undocumented Immigrants in the Care Economy

Nicole Prchal Svajlenka
Date of Publication: 
February, 2021
Source Organization: 
Center for American Progress

Across the country, 5 million undocumented immigrants are working alongside their neighbors to keep the country safe amid a global pandemic—including 142,000 immigrants who make up a large segment of the care economy as child care workers,personal care aides, and home health aides. The care economy is generally considered to consist of three sets of care workers: child care providers and nannies; direct care workers such as personal care and home health aides; and maids and cleaners. Though these workers are often overlooked, they are a vital foundation for a functioning economy and society. They provide essential services and care to the elderly and to people with disabilities and are teachers to children. Meanwhile, their role often facilitates other family members’ ability to remain in or return to the workforce, creating a ripple effect of productivity throughout the economy.

Domestic workers, regardless of immigration status, have been hit extremely hard. A National Domestic Workers Alliance survey found that more than 90 percent of cleaners, nannies, and home care workers lost work due to the coronavirus early in the pandemic, with three-quarters reporting their income as the primary income for their household. While the outlook has recovered some, the situation remains perilous for many in the care economy. Care workers have kept American households functioning; they must not be left behind, as they will play a critical role as the country moves to recovery

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Svajlenka, N. (2021, February 2). Undocumented Immigrants in the Care Economy. Center for American Progress. https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2021/01/01114813/EW-CareEconomy-factsheet.pdf?_ga=2.194295149.179446638.1612368069-1165177260.1606330132