Five Million Undocumented Workers May Be Eligible for Work Authorization in May 2015 Based on New Executive Order By: Julie Pace – The Cavanagh Law Firm, PA On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order that will create the opportunity for an estimated 5 million undocumented individuals to obtain work authorization and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years, which can be renewed for additional three year periods. Similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, individuals under the new Executive Order will not obtain citizenship or legal permanent resident status, but if they meet the program’s requirement they can obtain temporary employment authorization and be safe from deportation. The Executive Order has a three prong approach consisting of: a crackdown on border security a focus on deporting felons and not families and accountability of immigrants already unlawfully present in the U.S. The first prong of the Executive Order calls for an increase in border security to prevent individuals from entering the U.S. through improper channels and to decrease the flow of undocumented immigrants across the borders. The President’s actions will also centralize border security command-and-control to help effectuate the increased border enforcement. The second prong of the Executive Order sets a focus on deporting “felons, not families,” as the President stated in his speech. This builds on the 2012 directive from former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents focus resources on detaining and deporting only those individuals who presented a danger or threat to national security or public safety. The President has ordered ICE to place those suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and individuals who have recently and unlawfully crossed the border into the U.S. at the top of the deportation priority list. The third prong of the Executive Order creates the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which allows certain individuals who do not possess legal status to obtain work authorization and protection from deportation, similar to DACA. This opportunity is available to immigrants who meet the following requirements: must have lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 must be the parent of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (does not cover parents of DACA recipients) as of November 20, 2014 must register and pass a criminal and national security background check and must begin paying taxes. The program is expected to be available beginning approximately May 20, 2015. The President also announced that the DACA program will be expanded. The original program was limited to individuals under the age of 31 who had arrived in the U.S. prior to June 15, 2007. The expanded program will cover individuals who arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2010, and removes the cap on maximum age. The remaining requirements, such as arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16 and attending or having attended a U.S. school remain. These changes make an estimated 270,000 more people eligible for DACA. President Obama also announced that DACA relief will be granted for three years (renewable), rather than the two years granted in the original program. These changes will be made by approximately the end of February 2015. In addition to the three main components of the President’s Executive Order, the President announced changes to visa programs that provide work authorization for high-skilled workers awaiting Lawful Permanent Resident status and their spouses. Under the current scheme, employees with approved Lawful Permanent Resident applications may wait many years for their visa to become available. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is also finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved Lawful Permanent Resident application. DHS also plans to provide additional immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S. Many companies may see a dramatic increase in the amount of labor force ready, available, and eager to work. Additionally, employers may be approached by current employees who had obtained work initially with falsified documents seeking to update their identification and work authorization information because they have received lawful work authorization. The information provided to complete the new I-9 and go through E-Verify may be significantly different than what the employee had presented to the employer at the initial time of hire. If a current employee seeks to update his or her identification or work authorization information based on a recent acquisition of legal status, employers should contact legal counsel regarding the steps to take. Similarly, employers may experience a high return of former employees presenting new identification or work authorization information based on obtaining legal status. Whether or not employers decide to rehire these individuals or to continue to employ current employees who present new information is a business decision and the prudent employer should consult legal counsel about the actions to take when rehiring former employees who now present new or different documents to complete the I-9 and E-Verify process. Companies should be completing internal I-9 and E-Verify training regularly, conducting internal audits and ensuring immigration compliance is occurring at theircompanies. The Cavanagh Law Firm offers a wide array of legal services involving the Form I-9, E-Verify, immigration compliance, audits, and employment law issues including training employers to understand their immigration compliance obligation, while avoiding harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Julie Pace’s practice handles employment law, handbooks, drug and alcohol policies, I-9 and E-Verify compliance, OSHA, independent contractor and alleged misclassification issues with DES and other government agencies, and defends claims of sexual harassment, employment discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower, and wrongful discharge, and against charges by the EEOC or ACRD. She handles matters involving OSHA, ICE, OFCCP, DOL, NLRB, ADA, FMLA, and wage and hour laws. She regularly provides training to companies and assists with investigations. Julie can be reached at 602-322-4046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.