Is Immigration Reform on the Horizon? - American Society of Employers - Anthony Kaylin

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Is Immigration Reform on the Horizon?

immigration reformA number of questions have come through the ASE HR Hotline about immigration issues from E-Verify to H-1B increases.  The best answer currently is when immigration reform happens, if it does, it will be a bipartisan effort.  E-Verify will likely be required of all employers, and H-1B visas may be increased.  Any questions about Dreamers (estimated to be around 3.6 million) and those children of H-1Bs who aged out of the process (estimated to be about 200,000 or so) will likely not be answered in the initial reform package.

Tech companies including Google, Uber, Amazon, and others have started lobbying the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to change its policies so that the children of highly skilled foreign workers can stay in the United States after age 21. The companies urged the administration “to establish more robust aging out policies” in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, especially in a time when tech worker shortage is acute.

In an interview with Axios, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, Karan Bhatia, said that “the prospect of having their children having to self-deport when they turn 21 deters potential employees from coming to the United States, and also makes it harder to retain employees who have been here for a while."

Under the previous administration, it had a policy to deny H-4 holders, spouses of H-1Bs, to gain work authorization leading some to return home.  A number of lawsuits were filed against this approach and policy.

Moreover, the issue of green cards has hit specific national groups over others.  The vast majority of H-1Bs are of Indian subcontinent descent.  They make up 82% of the green-card backlog, and immigration researchers estimate that an Indian applicant applying for an employment-based green card today can expect to wait 80 years.  Hence, the lobbying by the tech industry.

Another issue is demographics.  The U.S. population growth has been decreasing, and in 2021, the population grew by the lowest rate at 0.1%. Further, the U.S. has an aging population where by 2034, Americans 65 and older will outnumber those under 18 for the first time in the nation’s history according to studies by the U.S. Census.  Some economists have argued that a slower population growth may negatively GDP growth. 

There have been a number of bills introduced for immigration reform.  The one more likely to achieve anything, the Senate version, is co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) and four other Republicans, and by Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Il.) and three other Democratic-voting senators, but is has not been scheduled for hearings.  Border security is the big hold-up.  Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said at a hearing in March that lawmakers must have a broader discussion about border security and other immigration issues, as well as the size of guest-worker programs, before turning their attention to pathways to citizenship.

“The reality is that any one immigration issue is always going to be coupled with a whole host of other issues, and the moment that you say, ‘I want this law passed,’ those other issues will always come up,” said Cris Ramón, an independent immigration analyst who has worked with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the George W. Bush Presidential Center.


Related ASE Courses

Immigration Compliance: Learn about the variety of visas which will permit foreign individuals to work in the United States. The course will provide an overview of the difference between both temporary and permanent employment-based visas. This course will also cover the three principle areas of immigration compliance – employment eligibility verification, H-1B labor condition applications, and export control. The next class will be held in Troy on August 16th.  Learn more and register at

I-9 and E-Verify: Everything You Need to Know:  Learn how to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, why and how employers should perform internal Form I-9 audits, and what steps to take in response to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit/raid. It will also include a discussion of the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program. This course will explore how the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has significantly increased the number of audits, raids and investigations it performs on employers for Form I-9 compliance and issues related to the possible employment of unauthorized foreign workers. The next class will be held virtually August 31, 2022.  Learn more and register at


Source:  The Wall Street Journal 6//22, Protocol 6/7/22, Rice University 3/9/22


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