Most legal practitioners agree that the U.S. immigration law system is cumbersome at best and, at worst, so flawed as to pose a danger to society. Far-reaching changes are on the horizon, thanks to President Bush's immigration reform plan, which will let an estimated 8 million undocumented workers apply for lawful status and employment authorization. If adopted, the plan will impact lawyers whose practices usually are only tangentially affected by immigration policy.
By William D. Fong|April 06, 2004 at 12:00 AM
Thank you for sharing!
Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
On Jan. 7, President George W. Bush made a bold statement of his vision for immigration reform. A key component of the reform agenda is a temporary worker plan for the estimated 8 million undocumented aliens in this country, according to the latest U.S. census data. If adopted, the plan will impact lawyers whose practices usually are only tangentially affected by immigration policy. Legal practitioners, scholars, politicians and the public — which deals with backlogs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — generally agree that the U.S. system of immigration law is cumbersome at best and, at worst, so fundamentally flawed as to pose a danger to society. The multifaceted and conflicting interests of border enforcement, domestic security, immigration benefits, U.S. worker protections, employers needing skilled and manual labor, and our history of personal liberties have resulted in the confusing patchwork of immigration laws. The president’s immigration reform provides an opportunity to bring order to the chaos. Here are the basics of the Bush immigration proposal, which the president sketched out in his Jan. 7 speech at the White House. The president said he opposes “amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship.” Instead, he proposes a temporary worker program that allows undocumented workers in the United States to apply for lawful status and employment authorization. A White House fact sheet outlines the program’s key principles: increased border security; matching willing employers with willing workers; worker protection from exploitation; and incentives to return to the home country. In general, a U.S. employer who makes reasonable efforts to find an American for an open job could fill the position with a temporary worker if the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) approves. CIS would grant the employee work authorization for three years, renewable for an additional three years, plus permission to travel to his or her home country and return to the United States. The president envisions incentives to assure a return to the home country after the expiration of the lawful status. If the Bush immigration reform works as planned, the number of temporary workers suddenly in lawful status will affect many aspects of society, such as politics, banking, insurance, home ownership, health and safety, bilingual education, travel and hospitality, transportation, small businesses and even sports. Those far-reaching effects, in turn, mean the Bush proposal will affect many areas of the law in addition to immigration. Advocates for expanded immigration and those seeking to limit immigration responded immediately to news of the temporary worker plan. Advocates argue that the reform does not address the real needs of the workers, their families or the U.S. employers that rely on their hard work and skill. Restrictionists’ claim that legitimizing the status of illegal aliens takes jobs from U.S. workers, encourages illegal immigration and threatens our national security. The impact on lawyers also is a topic for debate. Some immigration practitioners say the president’s proposal will result in more immigration cases than the 1986 amnesty program. Others believe relatively few immigrants will actually apply for the program because it offers no permanent residence track and would require even workers with family ties in the United States ultimately to return home. Even using a conservative estimate — assuming only a small percentage of the undocumented workforce seeks temporary worker status — several million workers could apply. AFFECTED AREAS While proponents and opponents focus on the effect of the proposal on immigration law, the plan potentially could impact lawyers in many other practice areas. Many undocumented workers do not use the U.S. legal system for dispute resolution or apply for governmental benefits, even if they qualify for them. Many fear the court system because they lack legal immigration status. Others may feel intimidated, manipulated or coerced by an opposing party and believe they have no recourse. Here are some practice areas that will be affected significantly.
This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.
To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.
LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.
ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.
Discover how to avoid the consequences of ineffective Information Governance including difficulty complying with data privacy regulations, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and handling e-discovery and other legal matters.
An expert witness can make or break a case. What if you could determine in minutes how many times a potential expert has testified, how many times his or her testimony has been excluded, the verdicts associated with the testimony, and more? This info brief explains how.
With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
Dynamically explore and compare data on law firms, companies, individual lawyers, and industry trends.
Exclusive Depth and Reach.
Legal Compass includes access to our exclusive industry reports, combining the unmatched expertise of our analyst team with ALM’s deep bench of proprietary information to provide insights that can’t be found anywhere else.
Big Pictures and Fine Details
Legal Compass delivers you the full scope of information, from the rankings of the Am Law 200 and NLJ 500 to intricate details and comparisons of firms’ financials, staffing, clients, news and events.
As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters.
Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss.
Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.