Understanding Immigration Reform: What it Means to Your Business

Immigration reform is of interest to many employers, especially those who have hired foreign-born employees. In fact, a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, “In 2015, there were 26.3 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.7 percent of the total.”

With a significant amount of the American workforce consisting of immigrants, it’s important that you understand the basics of immigration reform and the implications it can have on your business.


What is Immigration Reform?

Immigration reform references changes that have been implemented to current immigration policy. More specifically, a reform is designed to alter and improve a condition. When it comes to immigration reform and small business, it usually involves how employers approach hiring foreign-born workers and how to deal with undocumented workers.

A good example would be the I-9 form that employers must have new employees fill out in order to determine their eligibility to work in the United States.


The DACA+ and DAPA

President Obama is a proponent of immigration reform and tried to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) program and create the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Both programs revolve around giving foreign-born employees the ability to legally work in the U.S. without worrying about the threat of deportation, provided they meet all necessary requirements.

This was no doubt good news to foreign-born workers and their families. However, the DACA+ and DAPA were met with resistance when a federal judge from Texas blocked them. In turn, they couldn’t go into effect, and the case was sent to the Supreme Court. The case ultimately resulted in a split decision and won’t be addressed further until President Obama is out of office.

President Obama went on record as saying the following, “I think it is heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who’ve raised families here, who hoped for the opportunity to work, pay taxes, serve in the military and more fully contribute to this country we all love in a more open way.”


What This Means For Your Business

Many of your foreign-born employees will be disillusioned with this news. It’s easy to see why they would be unhappy with the results. This could drive a wedge between them and their loved ones. For employees who are undocumented or have friends or family members who are undocumented, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

For now, the current immigration policy will remain the same. You don’t need to treat your hiring process any differently than you have in the past. Just be sure that you’re staying compliant with immigration policy. This primarily involves having new employees fill out I-9 forms and ensuring that all of the relevant paperwork is filled out correctly. Doing so should keep you covered and ensures that you don’t end up hiring undocumented workers.

Understanding immigration reform is vital in this day and age. Penalties for hiring illegal workers can be steep, especially if it’s your second or third offense. By keeping up-to-date on relevant laws and immigration policy, you can keep your business in the clear.


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