President Barack Obama outlined steps Nov. 20 that would revamp the nations broken immigration system by allowing undocumented immigrants to play by the rules and gain work authorization potentially changing the rules for benefit managers.
For public and private employers, Obama explained that his new proposal will help expand work authorization for high-skilled workers that are awaiting their green card. It will also allow undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years, to temporarily stay in the U.S. by passing a background check and paying taxes.
It is unclear if benefit and operating costs will rise for employers as a result of any new immigration laws, says Denyse Sabagh, head of Duane Morris immigration practice group. She predicts a revamped system will ultimately help employers in the battle for talent.
Its a good thing for competition, she says. Some people who are not good-faith employers are paying lower wages because they know they can exploit undocumented workers.
The President acknowledged that business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less, while noting he will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.
Currently, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's workforce enforcement division investigates employers who use unauthorized workers as a part of their business model or who mistreat workers. Of the more than 452 criminal arrests made in 2013, nearly 40% were owners, managers or HR employees who faced charges of harboring or knowingly hiring illegal aliens, the agency says.
Prior proposals suggested opening employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses, which, some believe, would make the country more competitive with other countries -- to allow the spouses of professionals to be able to work, because right now theyre not, explains Sabagh.
In 2013, Senate bill 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, passed the Senate. But there has been no movement on the bill, which mirrors some of the major plans outlined by the President. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted yesterday that Obamas action would ignore the law, would reject the voice of the voters, and would impose new unfairness on law-abiding immigrants.
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