On Wednesday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guestworker Act (“AG Act”) passed the House Judiciary Committee. The two-day hearing was full of passionate argument on all sides, but ended in a close vote of 17-16.  We previously reported on some of the details of this proposed H-2C program here, but the passed AG Act contains several notable changes: 

On October 2, 2017, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced a new proposed year-round agricultural guestworker program (“the AG Act”) which aims to replace the current H-2A federal guestworker program as we previously reported here.

The AG Act proposes to replace the H-2A program with what will be called H-2C which will be administered and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). The AG Act aims to consolidate all food-related agricultural guestworkers under one system. All of the current H-2A and H-2B workers are included, in addition to groups that were not previously included, such as dairy and fishery workers.

On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. This decision has left many employers uneasy about how to handle employees whose employment authorization was granted through the DACA program and if they are still eligible to work in the United States.

The Saqui Law Group has compiled the following Questions and Answers regarding concerns employers may have following the announcement.

1.         Q.  What is DACA?

A. The DACA program was created by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. It allowed for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of sixteen and who met certain criteria to enroll in the DACA program and enjoy (1) a period of deferred deportation action and (2) eligibility to request employment authorization. Currently, there are approximately 800,000 DACA participants.

Beginning May 1, 2017, new permanent residents and workers granted employment authorization will begin receiving redesigned green cards and employment authorization documents (“EAD”). The new cards and EADs are a part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (“USCIS”) “Next Generation Secure Identification Document” project and come with “enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features” which create cards that are highly secure and more tamper-resistant than the ones currently in use.

On May 30, 2017, a California Legislature committee amended a proposed bill that would explicitly state the rights of immigrant workers at their job site, protect workers from employer self-audits of I-9 documents, and severely penalize employers who do not comply with the law. The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (“AB 450”) would specifically require employers to ask for a warrant before granting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) access to nonpublic areas of work site and prevents employers from give ICE confidential employee information, such as social security numbers, without a subpoena.

As we previously reported here and here, effective January 22, 2017, employers were required to begin using a revised Form I-9. Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is reporting that the electronic Form I-9s downloaded between November 14th and November 17th had a glitch. On these forms, numbers entered in the Social Security Number field were inadvertently rearranged when employees completed and printed Section 1 using a computer. For example, the number 123-45-6789 entered in the Social Security Number field would appear as 123-34-6789 once the form was printed.

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