State of the Union Address Reaffirms Newly Released Framework for Immigration Reform and Border Security

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.

See Footnotes

1 Some of these themes were previously previewed in the form of executive orders, proclamations and memos in 2017, with the April 18, 2017 executive order, Buy American and Hire American, having the most impact:

  • January 23, 2017 draft executive order: Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs
  • January 25, 2017 executive orders: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States and the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
  • February 20, 2017 memos Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies and Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies
  • March 6, 2017 executive order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
  • March 6, 2017 memo Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits, Ensuring Enforcement of All Laws for Entry into the United States, and Increasing Transparency Among Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and for the American People
  • April 18, 2017 executive order Buy American and Hire American
  • September 24, 2017 presidential proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.