The Healthcare Component of the Dreamer Debate

The U.S. Senate failed last week to move forward any legislation that would resolve the thorny immigration issue and the fate of “Dreamers” – the young immigrants who are in the U.S. through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Following a week-long debate, four bills came to the floor on Thursday, including one put forward by a bipartisan “Common Sense Coalition.” However, none could muster the 60 votes needed for passage.

As the Senate debated, MHA weighed in to draw attention to the importance of immigrants to the state’s vaunted healthcare sector. MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh issued a statement offering support for the Massachusetts delegation’s work to protect DACA, saying: “MHA wishes to acknowledge the impressive contributions to our healthcare system by immigrants and our strong support for DACA. National data reveals that 16% of the more than 14 million U.S. healthcare workforce – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, etc. – are foreign-born, and that number fails to include the millions of non-clinical employees who help feed our patients, maintain our buildings, and staff the wide range of jobs it takes to run our hospitals. Of particular importance are the so called Dreamers — 20% of DACA recipients work in healthcare.  We are proud that Massachusetts hospitals provide some of the best healthcare in the world, and are especially proud that foreign-born clinicians and other hospital employees are significant contributors to this excellence.

“The hospital community is also doing what it can to assure all immigrants – and anyone in need of care – that our doors are always open to them. MHA member hospitals, health systems, and affiliated caregivers work closely with populations of all types in their communities every day, and are deeply committed to providing high-quality care to each patient who comes through their doors, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.

“We are hopeful that the efforts of Senator Warren and Senator Markey, in concert with our entire congressional delegation, will forge a meaningful and lasting solution for all Dreamers.”