Election Hangover: What Immigration Policies Are We Waking Up To?

Authored by Diane E. Metzger

Nov 15, 2016

Since the election I have received many inquiries about the future of our immigration laws under President-elect Trump. While the future remains to be seen, employers can expect heightened scrutiny on immigration compliance and increased worksite enforcement. With the steeper I-9 fines enacted in August, cracking down on employers who violate the immigration laws is an easy and profitable target for the government. Employers should therefore review their I-9 and E-Verify practices to ensure they are in compliance.

As for undocumented individuals living in the U.S., President-elect Trump has appeared to somewhat soften his earlier rhetoric, giving new indications that he will, at least initially, focus deportation efforts on undocumented individuals who have a criminal history. This use of prosecutorial discretion will not, however, likely be as generous as under the Obama administration.

The future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, introduced by President Obama in 2012 under his executive authority, is also certainly in question as President-elect Trump has previously indicated his desire to discontinue the program. That said, for now DACA remains in effect so employers of individuals holding DACA work permits should continue to accept such work authorization unless and until new guidance is issued by United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Other areas of the law (Employee Benefits, Labor law, etc.) will also likely see significant changes under the new administration, but no area quite as much as immigration law—the power of POTUS to exercise authority over our nation’s immigration laws is unique in that the Executive Branch is charged with enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.

We can therefore expect some early changes to our immigration enforcement policies after President-elect Trump takes office. However, major changes are not currently anticipated for the processes by which an employer may sponsor a foreign national for a work visa or a U.S. citizen may sponsor a relative for a family-based visa.

If you have any questions regarding the enforcement of the immigration laws or any other immigration matter, please contact Diane E. Metzger.

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