DACA Program Raises Questions For Employers

According to recent estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could allow as many as 1.76 million undocumented immigrants, who were brought here as children, to get a two-year deferral of removal (deportation) and permission to work in the United States legally. [See MPI Study: Who Are the DREAMers and How Many Are There? MurthyBlog (16.Aug.2012).]

DACA has received mixed reviews in the press, with coverage largely focused on its potential beneficiaries, and its possible political impact this November. The rhetorical smoke surrounding DACA is as thick as ever, but some journalists are turning their attention to what might be called second-hand smoke: the practical consequences of DACA for employers who hired illegal immigrants in the past, or who may hire DACA recipients in the future.

Here’s the rub, according to a recent New York Times article:

“Immigrants applying for two-year deportation deferrals can ask employers to verify their job status as one way to meet a requirement showing that they have lived for at least five years in the United States. But employers who agree to those requests could be acknowledging that they knowingly hired an unauthorized worker – a violation of federal law.” [See Deportation Deferrals Put Employers of Immigrants in a Bind, by Julia Preston, New York Times (25.Sep.2012).]

The New York Times reports that USCIS wants to reassure employers: if they supply information to support a request for DACA benefits – by verifying employment, for instance – in most cases, the USCIS says, that information will not be used against the employer for immigration enforcement purposes, “unless there is evidence of egregious violations of criminal statutes or widespread abuses.” [See Evidence, Answer 4, Frequently Asked Questions, updated 14.Sep.2012, USCIS Web Page.]  ).

Doubtless, this is meant to convey that only serious violations will lead to problems for employers, but it’s not always clear where the USCIS will draw that line. If you have questions about how DACA, I-9 compliance, and other immigration matters may affect your business, the Murthy Law Firm stands ready to assist you.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.