During his January 30, 2018 State of the Union address, President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the administration’s immigration reform and border security framework. Issued on January 25, 2018, the White House’s framework includes the following four pillars:
(1) Border security: As previously mentioned in the White House’s priority list released in October 2017, the administration seeks, among other things, to set up a $25 billion trust fund for the border wall system, ports of entry/exit, and northern border improvements and enhancements; to hire new DHS personnel, ICE attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals; to end the statutorily imposed catch-and-release program; and to ensure the prompt and efficient removal of criminal aliens and visa overstays.
(2) Provide legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants: The administration calls for adjusting the DACA eligibility period so it may benefit approximately 1.8 million individuals, with a potential 10-12 year path to citizenship after meeting requirements for work, education and good moral character.
(3) Promote nuclear family migration: This goal would be accomplished by eliminating extended family immigration sponsorship and limiting it to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and “green card” holders (i.e., lawful permanent residents).
(4) Eliminate the Diversity Visa program: Eliminating this program (which grants permanent resident status to foreigners randomly selected through a lottery, regardless of skills, merit or public safety), would reallocate the visas to reduce the existing family-based backlog and high-skilled employment backlog.
What Does This Mean For Employers?
If all components of this framework are implemented, employers will face higher costs in sponsoring foreign workers for visas and in staying compliant. If the past year’s flurry of activity from the Trump administration is any indication,1 there will certainly be additional delays in the processing of nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions, labor certifications and green cards, as well visa issuance delays due to the additional screening required. On the other hand, those employers that have a significant workforce comprised of “Dreamers” will be relieved at not having to eliminate and replace those positions that could have impacted the business continuity.