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Archive for the ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’ Category

Changes to Business-related Immigration Under Trump’s Administration

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

By:  Allison McDonnell, ICG Content Coordinator

The US President's home at 1600 Pennsylvania Av, Washington DC.

President-elect, Donald Trump, will take office as the United State’s 45th president on January 20, 2017.  Trump ran his presidential campaign from a clear anti-immigration platform.  His ten-point plan, which includes limiting legal immigration, could have substantial effects on business immigration in the U.S.  However, it is still too soon to tell exactly which stances Trump’s administration will, or will be able to, follow through on.  Changes on the business-related immigration side are likely to come in incremental stages and later on, as his first priority will be undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

H-1B Visa Program

Throughout his campaign, Trump spoke out against the H-1B visa program, arguing that it is an abused process used to replace American workers with cheap labor.  He claimed several times that his intentions are to end the program completely.  However, experts say that the program will more than likely not be eradicated, but simply reformed.  For one, Trump, himself, understands the value of high tech global talent.  In addition, the fact that he desires a strong relationship with India, whose tech workers are among the largest group of beneficiaries of the H-1B program, will likely keep him from abolishing the program all together.  With popularity of reform from several congressmen and Trump’s base, it is likely that smaller caps and more stringent qualifications will be imposed.

E-1 and E-2 Treaty Trader and Investor Visas

Trump has been less vocal about planned changes to employment-based visas outside of the H-1B visa.  While it is likely that Trump will make major reforms to the H-1B program, we could also see some changes to the E-1 and E-2 visa classifications, given that they are increasingly the second-best option behind the H-1B visa for many immigrants.  For one, a tougher application of legal standards in immigration court and in consular processing may be applied to all visa categories.  In addition, caps could be implemented, which may be country-specific.  However, since a key part of the E-2 visa program is job creation, it could quite possibly go the other way, with the category growing in number.

Employment Eligibility Verification:  I-9 and E-Verify Programs

Considering employment draws immigrants to the United States, it is likely that we will see stricter enforcement of the Form I-9 verification process under Trump’s presidency.  Starting next year, there will likely be more ICE officers and immigration judges hired to expedite cases.  This increase in staff may lead to an increase in the number of worksite inspections for I-9 compliance.  It is also possible that there will be an increase in penalties and fines for any violations uncovered.  Therefore, it is important for employer’s to ensure that their paperwork, policies, and practices are in order in case of an audit.  Given that Trump may overturn President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), employers also need to be aware of which of their current foreign-born employees may become immediately undocumented and take proper action.

Trump has consistently applauded the E-Verify process for its systematic ability to filter out unauthorized employment.  In his position paper on immigration, he would mandate that the E-Verify process be used across the U.S.  Although, Trump will likely meet the same resistance as Congress has in the past, when it tried and failed several times to implement mandatory E-Verify.  That being true, Trump may still be able to strengthen or increase the program through unilateral executive orders.

In Closing

Although it is still too soon to tell precisely which of Trump’s campaign promises he will have the time, resources, or support to follow through on, it is a good idea to be informed and alert to the timing and the next steps required concerning your immigration matters and remain proactive, both as an employer and employee.  If you haven’t moved forward on a viable case, we would recommend that you meet with immigration counsel to prepare for the upcoming months under the new administration.  You can contact our office here.

 

Immigration Reform: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Drafting New Immigration Bill

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Passport immigration stampThe Congressional Hispanic Caucus is drafting a new immigration reform bill that lawmakers could start debating within the coming months, the chair of the caucus, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), said  last Thursday.  Sanchez said that the members of the caucus feel a responsibility as representatives of the Latino community to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.  She said Hispanic lawmakers are in the first phase of preparing the draft after the bill presented in the House of Representatives last year was never submitted for a vote.

“We had enough votes to (get it passed), but the speaker of the House (Republican John Boehner) had no intention of submitting it to a vote,” Sanchez stated.  The bill contained the same elements as the bipartisan immigration reform measure that was passed by the Senate.

(D-AZ) Rep. Ruben Gallego stated, “We want to protect DACA and DAPA,” he added, saying that if the two programs continue, “it will be easier” to move forward on comprehensive reform to be able to “bring out of the shadows” the other more than five million undocumented people who would not be covered by those measures.  Gallego insisted that besides continuing to exert pressure for reform, he and his colleagues in the Hispanic Caucus want to protect the executive action measures taken by President Barack Obama that would prevent the deportation of more than five million undocumented immigrants.

The executive orders were issued by the president last November due to the inability of Congress to approve an immigration reform package that would clear the way to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who are estimated to live in this country.

 

Executive Actions on Immigration

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Passport immigration stamp

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced efforts to retool critical aspects of the immigration system—how we enforce immigration laws, how we process immigration benefits, how we encourage further business innovation, and how we welcome immigrants to this nation.

Following the address, executive agencies made available intra-agency memoranda and fact sheets detailing specific actions that have already been taken, or will be taken in the future in ten areas within the confines of the law. These actions generally involve border security, the current unlawfully present population, or future legal immigration.

Below we link to Fact Sheets that address the details that we are aware of at this time of the 10 Executive Action Initiatives with links to the memoranda. Additional guidance will be forthcoming.

The expansion of the DACA program that has now removed the age restriction and increases employment authorization from 2 year to 3-year increments, is expected to go into effect on or about February 20, 2015. The implementation of DAPA, the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, that allows parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the country since January 1, 2010 to request deferred action and employment authorization, is expected to roll out approximately mid-May 2015.

Resources:

http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-action

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/guide-immigration-accountability-executive-action

Should you have questions at this time or would like to retain our office to assist you or your employees with their immigration matters, please contact us at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

 

The Facts: Fixing a Broken Immigration System Through Executive Action

Friday, November 21st, 2014

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We applaud President Obama’s announcement of  broad executive action to offer temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants, stating that the separation of families or the oppression of low-wage immigrant workers is “not who we are as Americans.”

Concurrent with the televised nationwide presidential address last night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary issued a series of memoranda outlining the various facets of the programs and policies which would constitute, in total, “executive action” relating to immigration matters such as:  Revising Removal Priorities, ending Secure Communities and replacing it with a New Priority Enforcement Program, expanding DACA, extending DACA to Parents of US citizens and Permanent Residents, revising parole rules, expanding Provisional Waivers to spouses and children, modernizing high-skilled business-related immigration, and more.  We link to this information above.

Additional specific information on the initiatives contained in the Executive Action taken by President Obama can be found here

 

 

 

Lawmakers Across Both Parties Blast Obama for Delaying Immigration Reform

Monday, September 15th, 2014

 

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“The decision to simply delay this deeply controversial and possibly unconstitutional unilateral action until after the election — instead of abandoning the idea altogether — smacks of raw politics,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement which is a total surprise considering the House’s refusal to do anything on immigration reform; is he being sarcastic or untruthful?!   Even members from within Obama’s own party scoffed at the decision.  Despite this,  the White House just last week assured anxious Hispanic lawmakers on Capitol Hill that President Obama will use executive action before the holiday season closes to reform U.S. immigration law, after breaking his pledge to make changes by the end of summer.  The message was delivered in a meeting Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other administration officials, including domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz, a key player for Obama on the issue, according to Politico.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Obama’s decision to “play it safe” could end up harming his good standing among many Latino voters in the midterms.  He further stated, “While we wait until November … there’s going to be another 60,000 people deported,” he said. “There is pain and suffering in the community, and there is a lot of anguish and anger.”

Other resources:

 

  1. Latin Post
  2. Los Angeles Times
  3. 7 Big Items Congress Won’t Get to this Fall 

Will Driver’s Licenses for the Undocumented be Acceptable for I-9 Purposes?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Undoc D-L

Last October, CA was the 10th state to sign into law driver’s “permits” for undocumented immigrants. In response to an email concerning this topic and whether this would be an acceptable List B document for I-9 purposes, the OSC posted a Technical Assistance letter response a few days ago on its website.

It has been my understanding that the permits will contain language that states that they are not to be used for “federal official purposes,” and will contain a notice on the card that reads: “This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits. ”

The matter, however, is timely addressed and is a reminder to examine driver’s licenses more closely and read the fine print on the front and back. Here’s a link to the letter that was posted on Feb. 7th. You’ll see it posted under the heading “Fiscal Year 2014.”

Also, here’s an article with an example of the card being used in Illinois stating “not valid for identification” indicated  very clearly at the top of the card.

If any of our readers more recently have run across one of these cards presented during the I-9 process, please share with us.

GOP Speaker Boehner Says They’re Ready to Write Principles for Immigration Overhaul

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The Los Angeles Times reported that Boehner’s leadership team was drafting “principles” for overhauling immigration laws that will be presented in coming weeks. His remarks were made Wednesday (Jan. 8, 2013) during the first private meeting of House Republicans in the new  year.         

“We are working on a standards or principles document,” Boehner said, according to a person in the room granted anonymity to discuss the private session. The document is being drafted by Boehner, his leadership team, including House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), as well as other members interested in the issue.

House Republican leaders believe that the GOP needs to support an immigration overhaul to woo Latino voters in advance of the 2016 presidential election – if that’s even possible with the rampant obstructionism that has plagued the House.  In any event, we all sit waiting to hear about this step-by-step approach that he’s been talking about for months.

The small team of GOP members and staff has been working to draft a statement of basic principles on immigration policy for several weeks. The effort is being coordinated by Rebecca Tallent, former immigration advisor to Arizona Sen. John McCain and a veteran of the previous effort to pass immigration reform during the second term of President George W. Bush. Boehner hired Tallent in December.

It was reported that the goal is to present the document — which could serve as an outline for future legislative action — before the House GOP retreat at a resort on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on Jan. 29th.

It is likely that Boehner will wait until the filings for Republican primaries are past before things really get moving in order to protect Republican incumbents from having to vote on immigration bills that could be used against them by far right candidates.

We will continue to keep you posted.

For more reading:  LA TimesWashington Post

 

 

 

Immigration Reform – Will it Cross the Finish Line in 2014?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image10852118Back in October of this year, President Obama stated “Immigration reform may not pass, but that’s no reason to give up the fight.”

The pro-immigration reform movement has united in a strong front and is the most broad and diverse that we’ve ever observed. The strategic and impassioned outcry from immigration activists are being heard in the hallways of Congress, in state offices across the country, groups fasting for immigration reform, holding prayer vigils, outbursts taking place in the middle of President Obama’s speeches, protestors chaining themselves to gates of federal buildings, and more –  a full court press on the GOP. “The immigration reform movement has emerged as a relentless force that is prepared to hold all parties accountable in 2014,” states Julia Preston in her NY Times article

The Background

In June 2013, the Senate passed their version of Comprehensive Immigration that doesn’t please everyone, but its passage was a victory for those who have been working on the issue for years and watched immigration reform fail many times over. It addresses undocumented immigrants, legal immigration, border security, employer hiring and an entry-exit system so the government knows if foreign nationals leave the country when their visa expires. The path to citizenship is long — 13 years or more — and arduous, but advocates are pleased that it would exist at all, given opposition from many Republicans and the failure of bills to carve out such a path in the past. Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, would be able to earn green cards in five years, as would some agricultural workers. The bill adds huge increases in border security that catered to unsure Democrats and Republicans.

Although 3 out of 4 Americans want Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship, Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Leadership are using stalling tactics and excuses to block reform from getting a vote on the House floor. There’s been no progress – total gridlock in the House of Representatives, while we’re told repeatedly that they are approaching CIR in a piecemeal manner and that all the individual bills will eventually be rolled into one comprehensive bill.  The president recently commented, If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like.”  We ask, when will his happen?  Sadly, not this year. 

The question is will the Tea Party continue to set the agenda for the House GOP?   Mounting frustration with the Tea Party may lead mainstream Republicans to move forward on immigration reform without them.  In order for the GOP to win Hispanic and Asian voters, it is mandatory that they address the broken immigration system. There has been little to no (and at times incredibly awkward, contradictory and antagonistic) outreach and messaging to the immigrant community by the Republican Party. At this point in time, there is fear that if 11 million are granted citizenship, they’ll vote Democratic.  We will have to see how this continues to play out moving into 2014.

Recently, On December 3, 2013, Speaker John Boehner announced the hiring of Rebecca Tallent to serve as immigration advisor in his office. Tallent worked as a staffer and later as Chief of Staff for Sen. John McCain. She left McCain’s office earlier this year to become the immigration policy director for the Bipartisan Policy Center where she also chaired the organization’s immigration task force.  She’s helped draft amnesty bills for Sen. McCain in the mid-2000s and, in her role at the Bipartisan Policy Center, helped develop an immigration framework that includes amnesty for illegal aliens and massive increases in legal immigration. Her new appointment in Speaker Boehner’s office does send a positive signal that he’s laying the ground work to pass massive immigration reforms in 2014.  However, NumbersUSA President Roy Beck said. “His new hire has done almost nothing the last decade except work for giant increases in foreign labor. But Boehner still has to persuade at least 118 Republican House Members that their constituents would be okay with an expansion of immigration.  We are hopeful that the appointment of Rebecca Tallent will play an essential role in lifting immigration reform over the finish line in early 2014.

More reading…

Video:  “Congress Fails to Tackle Immigration Reform”

Immigration Reform Advocates Descent on Capitol HIll; visiting 200 Offices

Other Articles on Immigration Reform

Immigration Reform: Historic Bill Clears Senate | Will the House Follow?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

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The Senate’s immigration bill takes us a small step closer to a less punitive and more open immigration policy. It legalizes most of the unlawful immigrants here and provides pathways for legal immigration in the future. It’s not a perfect bill – there are flaws such as the $46 billion border surge that just about militarizes the border with technology and fencing (the passing of the  Hoeven-Corker amendment), and mandatory E-Verify for all employers – the result of the political tug-of-war surrounding immigration reform and the “poison pill” that had to be added to attract sufficient Republican votes to pass the bill.

The good news is that it’s a huge “win” on many fronts – to name a few:

  1. Path to citizenship for vast majority of the 11 million!!!
  2. While in RPI status, immigrants can work, travel and live without fear of deportation
  3. Reunification of many families separated by deportation
  4. DREAMers will be considered the same as permanent residents during their RPI period for purposes of qualifying for naturalization, with a 5 year path to citizenship
  5. DACA recipients will have RPI status expedited
  6. Farm workers will get a ‘blue card’ and will be on a 5 year path to citizenship.  A single application may be submitted for a family.
  7. Expedited path for those already here in a temporary status
  8. Families that have spent years, even decades waiting for their turn in line will finally be reunited
  9. Adds spouses and children under 21 of permanent residents to the immediate relative category
  10. Immigrants on the path to citizenship can pay fees in installments
  11. New temporary worker programs that protects immigrant workers and American labor force
  12. The H-1B cap is increased and will float between 115,000 and 180,000 depending on market conditions. The base cap is 115,000.
  13. Spouses of H-1B holders will now be able to work
  14. The H-1C visa for nurses working in a health professional shortage area returns but is now just 300 for the entire country. Portability is now available allowing H-1C nurses to move more easily between H-1C employers.
  15. Future work-visa holders will be able to self-petition for green cards rather than relying on employers to decide whether they can call America home for good
  16. Per country limits for employment-based cases are eliminated
  17. EB-1 category will not be counted against quota

The House has announced that it will not take up or vote on the the Senate Bill.  “For any legislation — including the conference report — to pass the House it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members,” Boehner told reporters last Thursday.  Here is a video of the House Speaker.  As Latino Decisions writes in a new analysis, “The Republican Party is at a crucial crossroads.  If House Republicans stall or block immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants, it will be almost impossible for the party to recover on many fronts and to compete nationally for Latino votes.  We shall see how all this progresses and will continue to keep you well informed.

 

 

The Heavy Lift of Immigration Reform

Monday, June 17th, 2013

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After considering some 200 amendments to the Gang of 8’s immigration bill entitled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (a/k/a CIR, or Comprehensive Immigration Reform), it survived the Senate Judiciary Committee overhaul and has been introduced onto the floor of the Senate for further debate taking place this month.  It is the goal of the Senate to complete their work on the Bill by the July 4th recess. On the weekend talk show circuit, Lindsay Graham (S-SC) told conservatives who are trying to block the measure that they will doom the party.  Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., went a step further and predicted “there will never be a road to the White House for the Republican Party if immigration overhaul fails to pass.”

The big question is – will the House of Representatives cooperate and pass a bill?  The theory on this is that the purpose of the legislative process right now is for the House to get a bill passed. It could be a good or bad bill; it just has to be an intact bill because once something makes it through the House, it will go to conference with the Senate and the Committee will compare the two bills and draft a compromise bill that both chambers can accept

The Temperature on Immigration Reform in the House of Representatives:

While many House conservatives agree immigration reform is a critical priority for Congress, they part with President Obama, Senate Democrats, and some in their own party who believe allowing eventual citizenship to those in the country illegally is part of the solution. They vow that they won’t support any bill that adds to the deficit and they want to see a tougher approach to border security and to the benefits issue.

Not only has the federal government consistently increased spending on border enforcement, it has also met the border-security benchmarks laid down in the three immigration-reform bills introduced in the Senate since 2006. Read more on border security here

The GOP insists that newly legalized workers now working in the shadows have no access to government-sponsored health care during their 15-year pathway to citizenship.  Democrats say that since these newly legalized immigrants would be paying taxes (millions already do pay taxes), they should be eligible for benefits.

In the end, both chambers of Congress must eventually pass the identical legislation for the bill to make its way to the President’s desk to become law.  The question is…Will House Republican leadership pass a bill or fail?

White House Official stated to the Daily Caller, “If a Gang of Eight-style bill is signed into law by the President, it will probably be one of the top five legislative accomplishments in the last twenty years.”

For a Summary of S 744 refer here.  Refer here for more on the progress of S. 744 in the Senate, the text of bill, the summary and the proposed amendments.

The House Judiciary Committee markup of the bill starts this week, and will start with SAFE Act (H.R. 2278), a bill to improve the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and strengthen national security and will then take up the AG Act (H.R. 1773), a bill to provide American farmers with a workable temporary agricultural guest worker program that will help provide access to a reliable workforce.  Read more here