Some of the couples eligible for coronavirus-relief stimulus checks last year, and who could receive up to $2,800 more under Joe Biden’s proposed plan, paraded in their golf carts in support of Donald Trump through the Villages, a Florida community for people over 55. Many are retired and living comfortably, their benefits protected by the government safety net. If they had lost jobs during the pandemic, they would have been eligible for expanded unemployment benefits.
Many of the home-health aides and nursing assistants, some of them elderly themselves, who care for retirees in places like the Villages do not enjoy the same benefits. In Florida, more than 40 percent of these workers are immigrants, both authorized and unauthorized. This percentage does not include the groundskeepers, maintenance people, housekeepers, and food workers who keep retirement communities and nursing homes running. A growing number of all of these workers are now struggling, turning to food lines around the country.
According to a Pew Research poll, many Americans in the Silent Generation believe the myth that immigrants burden, rather than strengthen, the United States, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Our aging population depends on immigrants, not just for elder care but for health care (immigrants are playing a huge role in caring for COVID-19 patients), technological innovation (think Zoom, created by a Chinese immigrant), agriculture, and other aspects of a dynamic economy.