Anyone else read the news about immigration right now and think “maybe I don’t want to know what’s going on?” Great – let’s go hide under a rock together! Seriously though, there’s a lot of stuff happening and it’s important to be informed. I want to focus on an immigration bill that is likely going to be up for a vote this week and how that might impact our employers.
Let’s start with some history. DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was a result of executive action taken by President Obama when Congress did not pass the Dreamers Act. In short, it provided for those individuals who arrived in the country illegally as children before the 2012 executive order to obtain work authorization for 2 years and then required re-application every 2 years thereafter. Last year, the Attorney General determined that President Obama lacked the authority to create that executive order and required the government to stop processing new applications in September, 2017, and renewals as of March, 2018. However, a court postponed the end of the renewals, which continues presently. SHRM has a great graphic that walks through the history for those of you who are visual learners.
While there have been many proposed solutions in Congress, few bills have gained momentum. Earlier this month, the House agreed to take up four different bills on immigration (each addressing DACA) – HR4760, HR3440, HR4796, and HR6136. On Thursday, June 21, 2018, HR4760 was voted upon in the House and defeated. Another measure, HR6136, which has been dubbed the compromise GOP immigration bill, was supposed to be voted on Thursday as well. However, that was postponed until Friday and now until this week.
HR6136 has multiple components regarding immigration, including border security, emergency funding, visa security, help separated children be reunited with family members, allow family members to be detained together, and also address DACA recipients.
More specifically, those who were under 16 and came to the US unlawfully before June 15, 2007, and maintained a continued presence since 2012 in the US would be eligible for employment for a period of 6 years (and that can be renewed if the person remains qualified). The individual would have to show proof of graduation from a US high school or college and could not have any disqualifying convictions.
While the headlines suggest the bill does not have a great chance of moving forward (and even if it makes it out of the House, there are no guarantees there would be enough votes in the Senate to advance the measure). However, this is when it’s incredibly important for our voices to be heard. What is the impact to your organization if DACA recipients cannot continue to work? Do you support those who have been living in the US since before 6/15/2007 to have the ability to work lawfully? If so, let your Representative know immediately!
SHRM does support legal immigration. It cites ultra-low unemployment, increasing job openings, and severe skills gap and calls upon Congress to find a solution for DACA-eligible individuals who are working or serving in the military to continue to do so. See SHRM’s statement here.