Let’s move forward on immigration reform legislation in the new Congress – executive action without legislative reform would set back real reform


The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition has been working for the better part of two decades to advance immigration reform that includes:

 A workable guest worker program that accounts for America’s current and future workforce needs.

 An employment verification system that is easily accessible, fair, inexpensive and efficient for all employers.

 A realistic option that would allow the estimated 10 to 11 million unauthorized immigrants living and working in the United States to earn legal status.

We believe there is a real chance of moving immigration reform in the new Congress. That is why we write today to encourage the administration to resist pressure to act unilaterally. We are convinced that a legislative approach is the only path to lasting, meaningful reform and urge the president to avoid circumventing the legislative process.

Further extensions of temporary relief for workers already in the U.S. will make their status more confusing to employers and put business owners in an untenable position with regard to employment eligibility verification compliance. Employers are vulnerable when a current employee comes forward and reveals that he or she has been working for the company under a false identity and asks the employer to provide evidence of his or her employment history in order to take advantage of executive relief. An employer faces civil and potentially criminal liability for past hiring of unauthorized workers and may also face discrimination charges for hiring newly documented workers who previously presented fraudulent documents – particularly if the employer has an “honesty” or “anti-fraud” policy. Additionally, employers who do provide documentation to unauthorized workers may be identified as targets for future enforcement.

Passing landmark legislation requires Democrats and Republicans, the White House and Congress – all already deeply engaged in the decade-old effort to move immigration reform. This political balance will be set back severely if the administration gives in to pressure to make unilateral policy changes that should be made through the legislative process. Executive action seen to be usurping congressional authority will only impede the chances of badly needed reform.

We are encouraged by the importance congressional leadership has assigned to immigration reform. We believe legislation can and should move in the new Congress.

We urge all parties involved to move ahead with the legislative process, passing immigration legislation that works for Americans, immigrants and the U.S. economy. EWIC looks forward to continuing to work with Congress and the White House to find a solution to the nation’s immigration policy problems.

The Essential Worker Immigrant Coalition is a broad-based coalition of national businesses and trade associations from across the industry spectrum concerned with the shortage of both semi-skilled and unskilled labor.