Professionally Speaking – Strang Patteson December 2017

Immigration Law Affects All Employers

by Geoffrey Lacy of  Strang, Patteson, Renning, Lewis & Lacy, s.c.     844.833.0824

Since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, U.S. employers have been placed on the front lines of immigration enforcement. Employment opportunities, so the theory goes, are a fundamental motivator in cross-border migration. The political compromise struck in 1986, namely to exchange legalization for those residing in the U.S. with interior enforcement through employer obligations, failed to stem the tide of that migration.

Now, 30 years later, the U.S. still has a large undocumented population and now employers are faced with significant labor shortages in many industries. Employers remain on the frontline of federal law enforcement – often unwittingly and unknowingly. A little less than a year into the Trump Administration, we will take a few minutes to look at where the Administration appears to be going with respect to this issue.

DACA Discontinued – Beginning in 2012, the Obama Administration extended temporary employment authorization and protected status to many individuals living in the U.S. as noncitizens who were brought here before reaching the age of 16. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provided employment authorization for some roughly 800,000 recipients who could establish that they had been brought here as minors and were presently either employed or attending school, and that they had no significant criminal record.

In the early months of the Trump Administration, DACA was discontinued. The last applications to extend registration (valid each time for two years) were to be filed by October 5, 2017. This means that the individuals who obtained employment authorization through DACA will be losing that status and employment authorization.

Dream Act Re-Revisited – Meanwhile, the latest rendition of the now 16-year-old Dream Act has been introduced. The bill would provide permanent lawful status to those who resemble the DACA recipients. This is not yet law and may never be – it was first introduced in 2001. President Trump has signaled support for the bill, but it faces significant opposition in both chambers of Congress.

Interior Enforcement Efforts

The Trump Administration has stated that it intends to place significant additional investment in enforcing immigration laws through workplace investigations, site visits and raids. While discussions of border walls dominates press coverage, for Wisconsin employers, the more immediate need is to make sure that employment verification (I-9 and/or E-Verify) processes are in place and reviewed, and that someone in the company is assigned this responsibility.

Geoffrey Lacy is a founding shareholder with Strang, Patteson, Renning, Lewis & Lacy, s.c. and is located in the firm’s Green Bay office. This article is intended to provide information only, not legal advice. For advice regarding a particular labor or employment situation, please contact the attorneys at Strang, Patteson, Renning, Lewis & Lacy, s.c. (www.strangpatteson.com).