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Immigration Reform Update

Questions about immigration reform? This article outlines what may be included in the potential executive action.

Over the past two years, President Obama has urged Congress to deliver a comprehensive immigration reform bill. On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” but the House of Representatives never voted on the bill, choosing to write and vote on smaller, less comprehensive, legislation. In June 2014, frustrated by congressional impasse, the president promised to issue a series of executive orders intended to address the broken immigration system by the end of summer.

In early September 2014, President Obama decided to delay any executive action to address immigration reform because of the shift in politics caused by the surge of unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border with Mexico. Suggesting a need to spend more time on the issue, while still encouraging Congress to act, the president contended that in order for immigration reforms to be sustainable and effective, it will be important for the public to understand the facts about immigration and why such reform is necessary.

White House officials have suggested that executive action on immigration reform will not occur until after the November midterm elections but promise it will be before the end of 2014. 

Although neither the president nor his representatives have provided details on the potential executive action, it may include:

  • Providing temporary relief from deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants by expanding the pool of family members eligible for legal status;
  • Offering green cards to individuals with a master’s degree or doctorate in science and who have found employment in the U.S., or creating a new visa category for highly skilled immigrants who come to the U.S. to start businesses;
  • Streamlining the legal immigration system to recapture unused worker visas, temporarily increase annual visa numbers, or raise or eliminate existing annual country caps; or
  • Strengthening and improving the technologies and processes that secure U.S. borders.

Paychex will continue to monitor developments in immigration reform.

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