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Immigration Update - Feb. 16, 2012

Over the past few weeks, the Obama administration has reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring our laws work for all of the people. A recent regulation change by the Department of Labor may not make the headlines, but it will ensure that our laws are not abused to discriminate against a specific group, particularly immigrants. This change is a crucial element in addressing concerns raised by others in opposition to immigration reform.

H2-B Final Rule Fair to Both Immigrants and U.S. Workers

Next week, the Department of Labor will publish a Final Rule that will work to ensure the dignity of both nonagricultural American and immigrant workers. Employers and labor unions have noted the various flaws in the current H-2B guest worker visa program. These new regulations will protect vulnerable immigrants who are often exploited in the current system and open job access for U.S. workers. In addition, immigrant guest workers will be able to receive the basic services their American coworkers have.

Key provisions announced by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis include:

  • In the past, employers were not held accountable in their search for U.S. workers. They could simply state that they could not find U.S. workers to fill a position. The employer could then hire an immigrant worker and pay them a lower rate with fewer benefits. Under the new rule, employers will have to consult directly with the government and demonstrate that they could not hire U.S. workers.
  • All businesses that submit a request for an H-2B visa must enter that job position into a national electronic job registry program. This will help employers find U.S. workers and in turn help U.S. workers access job openings.
  • Immigrant workers will be protected with increased transparency throughout their employment period. This will be done through public disclosure of the methods of solicitation by overseas contractors and the agreements made between the worker and their employer. American workers will also have access to compensation for transportation costs to the job site and other wage benefits just as immigrant guest workers have.
  • These rules will be implemented on April 23, 2012.

The steps taken by the administration will safeguard H2-B visa workers and U.S. workers thus promoting justice on behalf of all workers.

REAL ID must be reassessed

In the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, Congress passed the REAL ID Act (H.R. 418). This bill, when fully implemented, would turn drivers’ licenses i