John O'Connor
John O’Connor

For a guy who claims to be a friend to business, President Trump sometimes expresses that affection in odd ways.

Take yesterday, for example, when he came out in favor of a proposal that would make it much harder for legal immigrants to enter the United States.

Such a measure, if enacted, would do one and possibly two bad things to senior living operators.

First and foremost, it would reduce the available labor supply for already hard-to-fill positions.

Take a good look at the people doing the lifting, cooking, scrubbing, mowing and sweeping at your community. How many of them have names likely to be found in the “Social Register”? Do you really believe people with names that could be listed in “Social Register” would like to replace them?

Now think back to that economics class you took way back in high school, or was it college? Remember what the textbook said about the relationship between supply and cost? That’s right — when the first goes down, the second almost always to go up. Need I say more here?

Now in case you missed yesterday’s development, Trump appeared at the White House with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (AR) and David Perdue (GA), promoting an updated version of legislation they introduced in February. Their measure aims to trim legal immigration levels by half or more. It would do so by implementing a “merit based” rationing system.

As in: If your English is not good enough, or you are too old, or you didn’t stay in school long enough, then you don’t merit a green card.

This move should not come as a complete surprise. After all, Trump repeatedly argued on the campaign trail that immigrants were stifling opportunities for the natives, while also heightening national security risks.

If senior living operators can take any comfort here, it’s that the proposal’s Senate chances are pretty slim. For unlike the effort we’ve seen on healthcare reform, this bill would require 60 votes to prevent a filibuster. So unless eight Democratic senators can be convinced to buck the party (nine if Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] is unavailable), it’s dead in the water.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be enthusiastically promoted.

“It is a historic and vital proposal,” Trump said yesterday. The first part of that statement may be factually correct. But it remains to be seen how many senior living operators would call such change “vital.”

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living. Email him at [email protected].