Since the end of the original DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was announced in September, employers in the U.S. have wondered: Will they be allowed to keep the workers they hired legally under DACA?
What about businesses owned by “Dreamers” – the immigrants protected by DACA, whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children? If you’re a Dreamer or an employer, keep reading.
The DACA program protected more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation, and it allowed the Dreamers to obtain work permits and legal employment in the United States.
Starting from September 5th, when the cancellation of the DACA program was announced, Congress has six months to resurrect the DACA program or to create an alternative. DACA’s future is unclear.
The future for Juan Martinez is also unclear. In Austin, Texas, the 27-year-old entrepreneur has launched a company that creates artificial intelligence.
The end of DACA, however, could also mean the end of Juan’s dreams. “It’s critical to have a good immigration status,” Martinez, whose parents brought him to Texas from Mexico when he was four, told CNN. In this situation, an Immigration Lawyer in Texas can help.
HOW MANY “DREAMERS” OWN BUSINESSES IN THE U.S.?
More than one in twenty of the Dreamers who were protected by DACA have started their own businesses in the United States. Among Dreamers who are over age 25, that number grows to eight percent, according to a survey conducted recently by United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress.
For now, Dreamers and their employers in the U.S. can get the specific and personalized legal advice they need by consulting an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.
Amid all of the current confusion regarding immigration, compliance with the law remains absolutely imperative.
In New York, the DACA program helped Mostafa Ghonim follow his dream.
After working at several catering and hospitality jobs, Ghonim has launched a business that helps New York City hotels staff special events.
He has more than twenty employees. Ghonim’s father and uncle owned businesses in Egypt, so it “was the one thing I was always exposed to,” he told CNN.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CONGRESS DOES NOT ACT?
If Congress takes no action, Ghonim and the others protected by DACA may lose the legal ability to take a job or start a business in the United States.
That includes 23-year-old Daniela Velez. She works and attends school in New Jersey, where she also operates a small business selling take-home kits for physics labs at Rowan College, where she received her associate’s degree.
Ms. Velez uses a 3-D printer to make the physics kits, which allows students to attend classes online when they cannot attend the school’s physics lab courses on campus.
Unless Congress acts, Ms. Velez could be forced to leave the U.S., but returning to her native Venezuela – a country struggling with a political and economic crisis – is no option. Going back “means fighting for my life,” Ms. Velez told CNN.
Thus, the concerns of employers and Dreamers are genuine. Sara Itucas is a client solution specialist with TriNet, a California-based human resources agency that serves a number of businesses that have hired Dreamers.
“From an employer’s standpoint,” Ms. Itucas says, the Dreamers “are qualified workers and valuable members of the team.”
ARE DACA EMPLOYEES STILL AUTHORIZED TO WORK IN THE U.S.?
If Congress does not act, the DACA program ends on March 5, 2018, but a DACA participant’s work authorization will stay effective until it expires.
If there is no renewal or alternative to the DACA program, when a Dreamer’s work authorization expires, that person will not qualify to seek or take a job in the United States.
A Dreamer who is presently employed under the DACA program can check his or her I-795 Approval Notice and look at the bottom of his or her Employment Authorization Document to find the date that your work authorization expires.
It’s now too late to take any advantage of the original DACA Program. Final applications were received in September by the Department of Homeland Security.
WHAT ARE BUSINESS LEADERS SAYING ABOUT THE END OF DACA?
Dreamers and immigration activists are not the only ones who want to retain some parts of the DACA program, which President Obama first established back in 2012.
In September, more than four hundred U.S. business leaders signed a letter to the president and Congress which insisted that Dreamers play a vital role in the U.S. economy.
Unlike activists who focus on the humanitarian aspects of immigration, many business leaders take a pragmatic approach which focuses on the economic impact of DACA and its cancellation.
For example, the letter from the business leaders emphasizes that 65 percent of the Dreamers have purchased a car and 16 percent have bought a home in the United States.
That economic activity ends if an alternative to DACA isn’t established quickly. Moody’s Analytics projects that five years after DACA, the nation’s gross domestic product will decline by $105 billion unless DACA continues or a similar program is implemented.
Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s, calls the end of DACA “a significant blow to businesses already struggling to find educated and skilled young workers.”
WHAT ARE THE PROPOSALS TO REPLACE THE DACA PROGRAM?
If Congress wants to help the Dreamers before their protection expires, several pending pieces of legislation could accomplish the task. The “Dream Act,” for example, is being sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The Dream Act offers many of the same protections as DACA and also creates a path to citizenship or permanent legal resident status.
The “Recognizing America’s Children Act” is being sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida, and like the Dream Act, it would restore many of the provisions of DACA and create a path to citizenship or permanent legal resident status.
The “Hope Act” is sponsored by Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. It has 112 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The Hope Act would provide the quickest path to citizenship.
Those eligible could apply for conditional permanent residency, valid for up to eight years, and after three years, they could apply for lawful permanent residence status.
After a total of five years, they could then apply for U.S. citizenship.
So what will be the final fate of DACA, and what will happen to the Dreamers? It’s too early to know.
Until Congress acts, however, Dreamers and their employers should take no risks and should rely strictly on the sound legal advice that an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.