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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration Legislation’

New Administration Indicates Trump is Placing DACA on Backburner for Now

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Jobs_iStock_000016785771XSmall (2)By:  Allison McDonnell, Content Coordinator

Despite repeated campaign promises to take immediate action upon taking office, the new administration has now indicated that Present Donald Trump will not be immediately dismantling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted by Barack Obama in 2012.

The administration has been tight-lipped about their intentions with DACA since Trump took office a short time ago.  When asked about when Trump will take action on DACA at a recent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer sidestepped the question and placed little emphasis on DACA as an action item.  Spicer went on to state that the President and administration’s main focus and priority is on immigrants with criminal records and will “prioritize the areas of dealing with the immigration system — both building the wall and making sure that we address people who are in this country illegally.”

Similarly, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus failed to clearly expound on the President’s intentions for DACA recipients, known as DREAMers.  Although during the presidential campaign Trump vehemently claimed that he would immediately overturn Obama’s executive action on DACA, Priebus indicated that DACA might not be addressed with a quick fix.  While Priebus failed to make any exacting commitments on the topic, he strongly indicated that Trump will not be signing any executive actions on DACA in the week following his inauguration.

Instead, Trump seems to have pledged to work with Congress to assist DREAMers.  Chief of Staff Priebus has suggested that the administration will work with the House and Senate leaders to build a long-term solution.  This seems to match a statement Trump made late last year during a Time Magazine interview that, while he does intend to overturn Obama’s executive action, he will also be looking for a compromise that will not disadvantage young immigrants.

On a similar positive note, a resolution for immigration reform was approved last week by The United States Conference of Mayors.  This resolution calls for the continuation of programs protecting DREAMers and the need to adopt an approach that welcome immigrants, stating “…we stand united as mayors through the United States Conference of Mayors in calling on Congress to fix our broken immigration system and immediately begin working toward the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has articulated enforcement priorities that mirror what Spicer and Priebus have stated – that national security threats and criminals will be priority number one for the time being. And, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to process DACA applications without change.  For now, over 741,500 DREAMers who benefit from the DACA program will have to continue to wait to see what their future may hold.

 

 

 

 

 

Penalties for I-9 Violations: What you need to know

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

One group of customers standing on a red target bullseye, with magnifying glass hovering above it

The DOJ announced in August 2016 that it was making significant increases to the schedule of fines imposed for various violations including those associated with compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”) imposed sanctions on employers; namely:

Form I-9 Paperwork Violations:
Previous fine per Form I-9 violation: $110 to $1,100
Fine effective August 1, 2016 per Form I-9 Violation: $216 to $2,126

Unlawful Employment of Unauthorized Workers:
First Offense
Previous fine, per worker: $375 to $3,200
Fine effective August 1,2016 per worker: $539 to $4,313
Second Offense
Previous fine per worker: $3,200 to $6,500
Fine effective August 1, 2016, per worker: $4,313 to $10,781
Subsequent Offenses
Previous fine, per worker: $4,300 to $16,000
Fine effective August 1, 2016, per worker: $6,469 to $21,563

Unfair Immigration-Related Practices
First Order
Previous fine, per worker: $375 to $3,200
Fine effective August 1, 2016, per worker: $445 to $3,563 (however repeat offenders could face new maximum penalty of $21,563 per worker.)

These fines also increase per subsequent order and frequent offenders may face a maximum fine of $17,816 per worker.

As reported in one of our previous blog posts concerning employment verification under a Trump Administration:

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.

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.

 

Breaking News! Obama’s DAPA Appeal to Take Center Stage in Supreme Court

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Supreme Court_dreamstime_xs_7835804The Obama administration took the battle over immigration to the Supreme Court on Friday, formally asking the justices to review a federal court decision that left in place a nationwide injunction against President Barack Obama’s sweeping initiative to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of immigrants here illegally.

DAPA would grant deferred action status to those who have lived in the United States for at least 5 years and have not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors, and have children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents. Deferred action is not full legal status, but in this case would come with a three-year, renewable work permit and exemption from deportation. The Court will hear arguments in April and rule by June.

Read more here    From Politico here

 

PERM: DOL Proposes User Fees to Modernize Labor Certification Processing

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

NEWS_iStock_000015711880XSmallRepresentatives from the Department of Labor (DOL) provided clues to their efforts to modernize the labor certification process used to sponsor foreign national workers for legal permanent residence, including the use of fees to advance that goal.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu told attendees of the Council for Global Immigration’s 2015 Symposium, June 10, 2015, in Washington, D.C., that the agency intends to issue a proposed rule later this year specifically modifying the PERM requirements and process.

The PERM process requires employers to adhere to a set of recruitment steps to demonstrate that workers are receiving at least the prevailing wage for the position and locality and that there are no U.S. workers willing and available to fill the position.

The PERM Labor Certification program has not been reviewed since its inception in 2005. Technological advances have significantly altered industry recruitment practices, and the department has received a lot of feedback that the existing requirements governing the PERM recruitment process do not align with worker or industry needs and practices.  Some of the most frustrating issues include the lack of expedited processing, the inability to correct technical errors and the use of outdated and expensive modes of recruitment, such as newspaper print ads.

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.

 

Voice of Latino Voters on Univision – Jorge Ramos

Monday, January 26th, 2015

America’s Voice reports; we quote…

The New York Times  has released a profile of journalist Jorge Ramos that underscores the political dangers Republicans have created by embracing anti-immigrant policies.  Ramos explains the reasons why immigration is such a salient issue for him and many other Latino voters.  As he tells Jackie Calmes of the Times:

“immigration is personal.  Immigration is the issue that tells us who is with us and who is against us; there’s no question about it.  And it’s very simple to understand why — half of all Latinos over 18 years of age were born outside the United States.  It really makes no sense to attack them and criticize them if you want their vote.”

As former George W. Bush campaign advisor Matthew Dowd states:

Remember what L.B.J. said, ‘When you lose Walter Cronkite, you’ve lost the war’?  [Ramos is] not only a journalist, he’s become the voice of the Latino constituency.  And that’s where Republicans have to worry — you don’t want to lose Jorge Ramos.

 

Obama, High-Skilled Visa Immigration and Silicon Valley

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

The U.S. technology industry might finally get the immigration reform that it wants. Bipartisan Senate groups introduced two tech-focused bills this month.  The Immigration Innovation Act – which increases the cap on H-1B Visas from 65,000 to 115,000, eliminates per-country limits on visa petitioners and lets spouses of H-1B visa holders work – came out of conversations with corporate tech leaders.

The Startup Act, which already has been introduced on three earlier occasions, creates a new visa category for foreign entrepreneurs.

Jobs_iStock_000016785771XSmall (2)For more:  http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-01-22/obama-immigration-reform-h-b1-visas-and-silicon-valley

 

DACA Recipients – USCIS Releases Guidance on the Application Renewal Process

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

DACA

 

 

Though the notice is preliminary and subject to change, it offers over half a million DACA recipients vital information about what they should do to prepare for the road ahead.  Refer here

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