In August, 2016, Presidential-candidate Trump traveled to Mexico to meet with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. Upon returning to the U.S. that same night, at a speech given in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump put forth his “10-Point Plan” for changes to immigration reforms. Business owners may not have considered Trump’s plan as having any impact on their operations at that time. Now that Trump has won the presidency, many employers are taking a closer look at his plans in order to prepare for what effects, if any, some of these plans will have on their businesses.
Several points in Trump’s immigration plan deal directly with the border, visa issuance, and the apprehension of undocumented individuals. These measures include building a wall to span the border with Mexico and keeping those that are undocumented detained for additional periods of time. Other reforms include creating a deportation task force, taking funding away from state or local municipalities who pass laws restricting their involvement with the enforcement of immigration laws, blocking immigration from certain countries, and reducing the amount of legal immigration into the country.
There may be little effect on the business community in Northeast Ohio as a result of most of Trump’s immigration agenda in these areas of enforcement and removal of undocumented aliens, however, there are two points of Trump’s plan that many employers are concerned about.
Point #1 – Rescinding Executive Actions
One of the points in Trump’s immigration plan is to rescind the executive actions on immigration taken by President Obama. Although the majority of Obama’s executive actions on immigration were struck down by the Supreme Court this year, there is one program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA,” that is still currently in place. DACA provides temporary work authorization and relief from deportation to those individuals who entered the United States illegally as children, have no criminal history, and have, at a minimum, a high school diploma.
DACA does not offer any path to legalization. But it does provide legal work authorization to approximately one million individuals, many of whom are using their work permits to work in all types of Northeast Ohio companies. Because of the possibility that DACA will no longer exist this January under President Trump, many employers looking into how many of their employees are working pursuant to these work permits. They are reaching out to immigration professionals to find out what other alternatives there may be to keep their workforce in place if those employees are no longer eligible to work.
Point #2 – E-Verify Program
Trump’s immigration agenda could affect all businesses is his attempt to block jobs for the undocumented by strengthening the E-Verify program. E-Verify is a federal, government-run web-based service that electronically verifies the employment eligibility of new hires. In a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, enrollment in the program is required for all federal contractors and subcontractors but is not currently required in Ohio. Under this part of Trump’s plan, many employers may find themselves the subject of increased audits to determine workforce and I-9 compliance. Employers will have to verify whether they have retained the necessary documentation to prove their employees are eligible to work.
Contacting an employment immigration specialist is the best way to make sure that your company is prepared for any upcoming changes in the law regarding immigration reforms. Contact Kim Alabasi at Dworken & Bernstein for a free consultation.