The Immigration Bill: What Does It Really Mean For Employers?

The economy produces more jobs than there are United States workers available, making immigrants critical to the American workforce. Importantly, several sectors serving as building blocks for other industries attract immigrant workers. The construction industry employs an estimated 2.4 million foreign born laborers. Many construction companies fear losing this valuable immigrant labor.

The U.S. Senate recently passed the most sweeping immigration bill in 20 years, long favored by President Bush that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. The bill couples border security and enforcement with a guest-worker program to put most of the 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship.

Supporters of the Senate bill now brace a battle with the House of Representatives. Senate legislation must be reconciled with a vastly different House bill that calls for tough border security and enforcement measures. The Conference Committee, consisting of members from each house, will meet to work out the differences during the summer. The bill will then be presented to the President to be signed into law by year-end.

Key Provisions to the Senate and House Bills:

What You Should Know

Throughout the development of the United Sates, immigrants made enormous contributions to our economic and cultural prosperity. Experts agree that today’s U.S. economy is bigger and faster-growing directly because of the influx of illegal workers. But differences between the House (H.R. 4437) and Senate (S 2611) bills may result in deportation for these workers.

In 1995, the House of Representatives passed a bill with provisions to criminalize illegal immigrants and bolster border security. Recently, rallies and marches have increased pressure on Congress to abandon the tough measures this bill proposes. An estimated 12 million foreign nationals are living illegally in the United States.

Protect Yourself Today as an Employer

Take these steps to safeguard your business:

Remember, the law has not yet changed; the Conference Committee could fail to come up with a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the Immigration bill. Therefore, all employers should contact their trade associations and Congressional representatives to urge an employer-favored compromise and support S 2611.

Jacob M. Monty is an attorney and managing partner at Monty Partners, LLP, an employment and immigration law firm, representing the interests of companies with large Hispanic workforces.