Home Care Workers Are One Step Closer to Receiving the Protections They Deserve

By Stephanie Román, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

CAG-Homecare-worker2_smallLast Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision that puts nearly two million home care workers in the United States one step closer to having critical minimum wage and overtime protections. The court’s decision upheld the Department of Labor’s (DOL) home care rule, providing home care workers with overtime and minimum wage protections, as a legal and justified change to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) after it was challenged by home care business associations. DOL appealed the lower court’s ruling in favor of the home care business associations, thus taking the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. The department is now moving forward with its current policy of encouraging states and employers to take the necessary steps toward implementing the rule.

The court’s decision means that for the first time in U.S. history, home care workers will be recognized as workers worthy of the same basic overtime and minimum wage protections extended to all other workers. Friday’s decision comes after the Department of Labor’s January rule to address poverty-level wages and a lack of overtime compensation for home care workers was challenged in court by home care business associations.

The rule in question corrects a decades-long injustice of excluding home care workers from basic employment protections. Home care workers were left out of the 1974 update to the FLSA that expanded labor protections to domestic workers and have struggled to gain recognition and protections for their work. Home care workers provide individual care to elderly adults and assist people with disabilities with daily living tasks.

These workers are low-paid, predominately immigrant women and women of color. Poverty-level wages undermine the economic security of workers and their families and do not equate with the value that home care workers provide. Home care workers make an average of $9.70 per hour. NCLR has produced fact sheets and blog posts on these critical yet vulnerable workers.

The home care rule’s overtime and minimum wage protections are critical to current and future workers as the industry grows each year. In fact, home care has experienced a huge transformation over the years into a multibillion-dollar industry that is projected to keep growing as the U.S. population ages. This field has extremely high turnover rates. Investment in workers would help stabilize the workforce and make home care industry jobs the kind that will attract and retain dedicated workers.

Given Friday’s victory for the home care rule, DOL’s enforcement timeline for the rule depends on the legal actions taken by the businesses that challenged the department. Even as another challenge from the home care business associations may come, the U.S. Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision is heartening and should serve as a clear signal for states to act quickly and work to implement these basic protections for two million hardworking home care workers.

What Trump Gets All Wrong About Immigration and Taxes

(Cross-posted from the Citizens for Tax Justice Blog)

Trump_2

Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump’s recently released framework for immigration reform includes misleading statements about “illegal immigrants” claiming refundable tax credits. Trump claims that “illegal immigrants” received $4.2 billion in “free” tax credits in 2011 and proposes to pay for part of his immigration proposal by accepting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)’s “recommendation” to eliminate tax credit payments to these individuals. It’s hard to know where to start in deconstructing the inaccuracies in Trump’s statement.

First, the use of the word “free” is highly misleading, as undocumented immigrants do pay a significant amount in local, state, and federal taxes.  An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimated that in 2012, undocumented immigrants paid $11.8 billion in state and local taxes (including about $7 billion in sales and excise taxes, $3.6 billion in property taxes, and $1.1 billion in income taxes). On top of this, the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary estimated that in 2010, unauthorized workers (who may be undocumented or in the country legally but without permission to work) paid $12 billion in Social Security payroll taxes net of benefits received. Since most unauthorized workers are not eligible for Social Security benefits, this group only received approximately $1 billion in benefits for the $13 billion paid in.

Second, the $4.2 billion figure that Trump references is from a 2011 TIGTA report that actually states that families with an unauthorized worker received $4.2 billion in 2009 (not 2011) through the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (known as the Additional Child Tax Credit). While this may sound the same on the surface, there are a few things that should be noted. As the report explains, these credits were claimed by taxpayers using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which the IRS issues to individuals not eligible for a Social Security Number. ITINs are issued without regard to immigration status to people not authorized to work in the United States, so this group includes not just undocumented immigrants but also individuals who have immigrated legally but aren’t legally able to work.

Labor-Day-Banner-Photo-4Taxpayers using an ITIN are prohibited from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) but are allowed to claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Worth up to $1,000 per qualifying child, the CTC is intended to offset the costs of raising children. Families who owe less in taxes than their eligible Child Tax Credit amount can receive the difference through the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is paid out with their tax refund. Since the CTC is intended primarily to benefit children, it makes sense that it is the children’s immigration status, not the parents’, that qualifies a family to receive the credit, and a qualifying child can be a citizen, a U.S. national, or a resident alien. And although some portion of the $4.2 billion in Additional Child Tax Credits could be going to families with undocumented parents, nearly 80 percent of the children of undocumented immigrants are U.S. citizens.

It is also worth noting that the refundable tax credits like the EITC and CTC have immense benefits for the children in the families that receive them. There is a growing body of research showing that these credits improve educational and health outcomes for children and result in them working hard and having higher earnings as adults.

Third, while Trump says that his plan would “accept the recommendation” of TIGTA to eliminate tax credit payments to illegal immigrants, the 2012 TIGTA report that he references makes no such recommendation. In actuality, the report recommends that the IRS implement procedures to reduce the number of fraudulent ITIN applications that it approves. TIGTA’s main concern here is that people are using fraudulent documents to obtain an ITIN and using it to file fraudulent tax returns (e.g. claiming tax refunds for non-existent persons), not the use of ITINs by undocumented immigrants.

GuardRailWorkers_12_2_2014Finally, if the concern is the $4.2 billion revenue loss, Trump should look to comprehensive immigration reform that allows a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which would actually increase revenues at the federal, state, and local levels. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill would have decreased the deficit by $197 billion over ten years, as newly legal immigrants would pay $459 billion in additional taxes, while the increased government expenditures for benefits would only increase by $262 billion. Additionally, ITEP estimated that granting citizenship to all undocumented immigrants would raise more than $2.2 billion annually in state and local revenues. These revenue increases would occur because more immigrants would then be paying taxes on their income and because citizenship is likely to boost wages and therefore increase income, sales and property taxes. Trump might want to consider these benefits instead of spending all his time planning for that wall.

For more on Trump’s tax proposals, click here.

Trumpification of the Republican Party Reaches Turning Point

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gage Skidmore

It has been a dreadful week on the issue of immigration. On Monday, Donald Trump released his long-awaited immigration “plan” which put his bigotry and hateful rhetoric into policy. His agenda of mass deportation, a massive wall, and the end of birthright citizenship hits many of the hallmarks of bad policy-making: completely impractical, prohibitively expensive, widely unpopular, doomed to fail, and deeply inconsistent with our values as a nation.

Yet once again—with a few exceptions, like Marco Rubio—the other Republican presidential candidates rushed to embrace Trump’s latest salvo: the proposed evisceration of the 14th amendment. Even Jeb Bush, who does not support ending birthright citizenship, echoed Trump’s use of the heinous and despicable term, “anchor babies.” Calling millions of U.S. citizens a term universally viewed as offensive by the Latino community does not bode well for Republican electoral prospects.

And the most disturbing incident of the week was the horrific beating of a Latino homeless man in Boston, who was innocently sleeping near a train station. The two brothers charged in the crime told police that their attack was motivated by their agreement with Donald Trump that “illegals have to go.”

Much of the responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of not only Trump, but of a Republican Party whose leadership has so far refused to publicly and unequivocally denounce Trump and his extreme rhetoric. Words have consequences, and hateful words lead to hateful actions. No one—especially not two intoxicated bullies—can tell a person’s immigration status by looking at them. This senseless attack was predicated on how this person looked. In other words, a summer of disparagement and demonization has put a target squarely on the backs of all 55 million Hispanics in this country.

When the election rolls around next November, there is no question in my mind that we will look back at this week as a turning point in the election. It will be known as the week when Trump’s dominance of both the campaign and the direction of the Republican Party on the immigration issue turned a dark and dangerous turn. It will be remembered as the week that Republicans not only started to lose the Latino vote, but also the election.

Republicans can only turn this around if the Party finds both its courage and its voice to say “enough is enough” to the demagoguery and bigotry of Trump and his ilk, and to the unconscionable demonization of an entire community that has now put millions of people in harm’s way. If not, Trump will succeed in getting his massive wall. It won’t be a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but a permanent wall between the Republican Party and Latino voters.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending August 21

Immigration_reform_Updates_blue

Week Ended August 21

This week in immigration reform: We highlight new resources out this week; Migration Policy Institute releases a report on the most recent unauthorized immigration trends; The Pew Charitable Trusts examines states issuing driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants; The Center for American Progress determines how much it would cost to deport all 11.3 unauthorized individuals. NCLR kept the community informed with staff quoted in Politico, NBC News, CNN, and La Opinión.

Migration Policy Institute releases report on unauthorized immigration trends: This week, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) released a new report entitledAn Analysis of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States by Country and Region of Birth.” The report, looking at unauthorized immigration as a whole, found that unauthorized immigrants have shown more diffuse settlement trends in the past decade, as 41 states now have a “significant” population of unauthorized immigrants. Mexico is still the largest originating nation with 6.1 million unauthorized immigrants, followed by Guatemala (704,000), El Salvador (436,000), and Honduras (317,000). However, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico has only increased by 29 percent since 2000, down from 136 percent growth during the 1990’s. MPI also notes that over 80 percent of unauthorized immigrants originating from Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras who were immediately eligible for DACA have applied for enrollment, which is attributed to strong outreach by consulates and extensive Spanish-language media and services. A new report looks at DACA’s economic benefit to Illinois and the critical role that service providers play in the success of the implementation of DACA.

Pew report looks at how states are handling driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants:  A new report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts examines the different policies and procedures of the ten states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. In their report, Pew identifies four key areas for consideration for policymakers to decide whether and how to issue driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants: scope, eligibility standards, issuance procedures, and outreach and education. Pew also found that 37 percent of all unauthorized immigrants live in a state which allows them to obtain driver’s licenses.

The Center for American Progress puts price tag on deporting all unauthorized immigrants at $114 billion: Using an average cost of $10,070 per person, analysis by the Center for American Progress estimates that a mass deportation strategy for all 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants would be $114 billion. This includes costs to find each individual, detain individuals while waiting for removal, processing these individuals through the immigration courts, and transportation costs. Factoring in the cost to the overall economy, however, and that number swells to between $420 billion and $620 billion over the span, according to the American Action Fund (AAF).

The Bipartisan Policy Center calculates that deporting all 11.3 unauthorized immigrants would shrink the labor force by over 6 percent during those 20 years, and the AAF estimates that the US GDP would shrink by $1.6 trillion.

I Am at NCLR Because of My Momma’s Love!

By Antonio Caro, NCLR Fundraising Consultant

Antonio 1.

A very young Antonio with his mother. Photo: Antonio Caro.

I remember mornings in the Caro home. The rhythm of Joe Arroyo’s claves, accompanied by the clash of pots and pans and the scuffling sound of my mother’s chancletas clacking to the rhythm of the music. It was in this busy mashup of cultura where Latino cultural awareness, pride, and advocacy began coursing through my veins. More importantly, it was in this home I saw my mother work to create a brighter future for my siblings and me. Home is the source of my passion and where I fuel my excitement to walk through the doors of NCLR.

As a first-generation Colombian-American, I grew up in a low-income household led by a single-mother in Silver Spring, Md. When I was young, my greatest fear was that someday my mother would buckle under the pressure of the stress of raising three kids, juggling three jobs, and taking care of the family’s finances. However, my siblings and I witnessed her combat obstacle after obstacle.

Whether it was workplace discrimination, bankruptcy, racial profiling, or anxiety, my mother managed to overcome every pitfall. Her success was a result of a lot of elbow grease paired with the help from NCLR Affiliates like Mary’s Center. With their assistance, my mother received the support she needed to put me and my siblings through college.

AntonioCaro

Antonio at NCLR Headquarters in Washington.

My mother’s love and perseverance still ignites my passion for promoting human dignity and advocating for the voiceless. This passion led to my involvement with the Hispanic Cultural Association, which I led as president at my alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s University. It eventually helped me get to NCLR.

At NCLR I’m the one who is able to spark passion. Here, I support the community-based organizations that help families like my own. I can advocate for the voiceless. I can inspire others to support the Latino community—just like my mom did for me.

I am honored to represent an organization that impacts the lives of millions of families nationwide—families like mine, dreaming and fighting for a brighter future.

Antonio Caro is a fundraising consultant with NCLR. Under his guidance, NCLR is helping connect donors to the issues and causes they care the most about. Join him today by becoming an NCLR Amigo. Visit www.nclr.org/donate.