On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced his executive action plan to address the country’s “broken immigration system.” Referred to as the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, the plan will, among other steps, deploy additional resources to the border, focus deportation efforts on criminals and those who recently cross the border illegally, expand employment authorization for highly skilled workers, and provide certain undocumented immigrants temporary “deferred action” relief from deportation. (See the White House’s Fact Sheet on the Immigration Accountability Executive Action).
Articles Discussing General Topics In Employing Immigrants.
On Nov. 20, President Obama announced a wide-ranging series of executive actions to reform U.S. immigration policy. Although these unilateral actions will most certainly be challenged by Congress and in the courts, and although none are yet in effect, it is important for employers to immediately assess how the President’s initiative may impact their operations and employees.
On November 20, 2014, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a policy memorandum to the Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and Acting Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). The memorandum highlights several new policies and regulations intended to encourage the growth of U.S. businesses and create new jobs by enabling the hiring and retention of highly skilled foreign-born workers while also providing increased flexibility to these workers. The memorandum is part of a comprehensive Executive Action Plan proposed by President Obama.
Executive Summary: On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration, which will grant work authorization to millions of undocumented workers. In addition, the executive actions seek to boost the economy by streamlining the legal immigration process for graduates of U.S. STEM programs, professionals, highly skilled foreign workers, and entrepreneurs.
In case there was any question, an Indiana staffing company, Access Therapies, learned late last month that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) does not absolve employers of their responsibilities under state wage and hour laws. The Southern District of Indiana denied Access Therapies’ motion to dismiss a counterclaims filed by a Philippine citizen who had signed several agreements and promissory notes with the company in return for its sponsorship of his H-1B petition.
On September 18, 2014, the Senate voted on a Republican-led measure to prohibit President Barack Obama from unilaterally granting deportation relief to any undocumented immigrant.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has published updated information regarding the performance issues with the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). As discussed in our July 24, 2014 Alert, a computer glitch caused the CCD to crash, resulting in world-wide delays in visa and passport processing. The DOS has stated that it has made significant progress and has eliminated most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases. It will continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases and emergency nonimmigrant visas. According to the DOS, visa applicants may still experience delays of up to a week in addition to normal processing times.
The Department of State (“DOS”) has announced that it has been experiencing technical operational issues with its visa issuance system. The issues affect DOS’ ability to print nonimmigrant visas, commonly known as visa stamps. The issues began on July 20 and, as of July 31, have impacted about half of the individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas abroad. From July 20 through July 28, slightly more than 220,000 nonimmigrant visas were issued globally. DOS stated that it normally issues closer to 425,000 nonimmigrant visas for the same time frame. The issues appear to impact all U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide.
In a recent report entitled “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Worksite Enforcement Administrative Inspection Process,” Acting Assistant Inspector General for Audits Mark Bell discussed the results of an audit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) worksite enforcement processes. The purpose for the audit was to determine whether ICE was meeting directives set out in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. The report concluded that ICE has been inconsistent in its enforcement policies and made recommendations to improve ICE’s implementation of its worksite strategy and uniformly strengthen its fine and audit procedures.
On January 30, 2014, House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) announced at a GOP retreat in Maryland the House Republicans’ six standards for immigration reform. The message in the preamble made clear that House Republicans would not support comprehensive immigration reform but favored a step-by-step approach which would begin with increased border security. Although the standards do not lay out exact steps to achieve the reform, they address the following areas.
A federal grand jury recently returned a 23-count indictment charging the owners and managers of an Ohio restaurant chain with conspiracy to harbor undocumented workers, aiding and abetting the harboring of undocumented workers, and harboring undocumented workers, among other charges. In addition to prison sentences, the indictment seeks $16.47 million in gross proceeds that the defendants allegedly earned as a result of the claimed offenses. The indictment is the result of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced yesterday that in FY2013, the agency conducted a total of 368,644 removals. Of these removals, 235,093 occurred during or shortly after individuals were attempting to enter the U.S. The remaining 133,551 removals were individuals who were apprehended in the interior of the United States. The leading countries of origin for those removed were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which accounted for about 94.4% of the total removals.
On October 2, 2013, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15), a comprehensive immigration reform bill modeled on Senate bill 744, which the Senate approved on June 27, 2013. As of October 6, the bill had 161 co-sponsors.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced on October 1, 2013 that the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses) it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification, during the suspension of federal government services. In addition, the OFLC’s web sites, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, is not processing any requests or allowing authorized users to access their online accounts. The DOL has explained that these websites will be available again when the federal government resumes operations.
Executive Summary: On October 1, 2013, the U.S. Federal Government implemented a shutdown after Congress failed to reach an agreement on appropriations. As a result, several federal agencies involved in processing immigration benefits have been impacted for the unforeseen future.