How HR Is Handling DACA Crisis

Posted September 13, 2017 by Mary McGinley

HR professionals are again on the front lines and have become a part of the growing national debate over immigration reform in the United States. President Trump recently announced to phase out over the next six months the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. This is not the first time that such controversial rulings have come out of the current White House Administration. Other executive orders such as the highly contentious travel ban and the Buy American Hire American executive orders have caused their fair share of confusion and anxiety for organizations and their workers. President Trump has determined that the DACA program will end on March 5, 2018 unless Congress passes legislation on immigration reform.

Government and employment experts estimate that approximately 800,000 individuals are currently able to legally work in the U.S. under provisions provided under DACA.  President Obama created DACA as a way to help young people who had been brought to the US as children and have grown up in this country without being legally documented.

In an article that appeared on the SHRM blog, the Migration Policy Institute indicated that more than 75% of DACA recipients are currently employed in positions from mainly entry level white collar occupations across the United States. For DACA recipients to have been eligible for the program, they were required to submit an employment authorization document (EAD) that shows an expiry date.

In order for companies and organizations to be in compliance with the law, HR professionals who are responsible for submitting both I-9 and E-Verify compliance documentation along with employee engagement and workforce planning documents, three important dates need to be circled on their calendars. Being

* September 5, 2017: This is the final date set down by the Trump Administration that the USCIS will process DACA applications. Any applications submitted after September 5th will not be considered and any received before or on the deadline will be considered only on a case-by-case basis.

* October 5, 2017: Any DACA recipients with a work authorization which is set to expire between September 5th, 2017 and March 5th, 2018 are required to file an application for renewal by October 5th, 2017.

* March 5, 2018: This is the date that President Trump has for DACA to end unless Congress enacts legislation to preserve the program or to extend effectiveness dates.

Many organizations across the country are upset at the potential disruption to their workforce, the morale of those workers affected and the cost of this latest decision by the White House.  HR professionals can help by doing the following for their organizations workers.

  • Workers or their managers may reach out to HR for guidance regarding DACA. It is not advised to either terminate or reject potential applicants based on what may or may not come to pass in connection to a worker and DACA unless the information is volunteered, nor should I-9 information be reviewed in order to try to determine whether or not a worker is a DACA recipient.
  • Determine what level of support your organization can give to DACA recipients and their families. Let workers know about the small window that closes on October 5th, 2017 in order to apply for extensions of their status. Consider providing support emotionally for them by holding support discussions or by offering an employee assistance plan (EAP) plan. Such a plan may be able to provide either emotional support or legal help for workers affected by DACA.
  • Encourage participation by organization leaders to speak up publically if possible in response to DACA. Many companies have spoken out in favor of DACA. Some managers may or may not be aware of how DACA will affect them and their teams. HR professionals can help to educate managers on both legal obligations and how to do what is best for the organization and those workers affected without potentially discriminating against them in any way.
  • HR professionals can do a great deal to help by staying informed and making sure that their organization stays in the legal loop as to what is happening with DACA. Government policies can change drastically very quickly or can drag on longer than expected. Hopefully for DACA, elected officials in Congress will find a solution quickly. ¬†

Staying informed about all of the issues of compliance in Washington can be a challenge. DACA recipients have lives and families and deserve to have their rights protected as much as possible. Helping keep your organization and your workers informed is part of what we do at EinsteinHR.

We understand the challenges that small to medium sized organizations face in finding and keeping ideal candidates on the job. Whatever your HR needs, we can help. Contact us today at 888-981-3622 (emc2) to find out more.