As many of you know, in September of 2017, the Trump administration announced it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. President Trump set a March 5, 2018, expiration date in order to give Congress time to pass legislation addressing DACA. The deadline is quickly approaching which has left lawmakers scrambling for a solution that will have sufficient bipartisan support to be passed by Congress and be acceptable for the President, who will have to sign the bill into law.

The Crackdown Continues

The Trump administration has been making good on its promise to encourage hiring American workers. In a newsletter last month titled “Protecting American Workers,” the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) linked to a news release in which it announced that it had reached a settlement with a Washington tree fruit grower over H-2A visa program violations.

AB 450 – What it Means to Your Operations

As we’ve reported here, here, and here, AB 450, the “Immigrant Worker Protection Act,” changes how employers are to deal with audits by immigration enforcement agents. Below, you’ll find a more detailed breakdown on notices that must be posted after having received a valid Notice of Inspection (“NOI”). This information was put together by Rob Roy of the Ventura County Agricultural Association, with whom we work closely.

Impact of Government Shutdown on H-2A

On Monday, after being stuck at an impasse that resulted in shutting down the government for three days, Congress passed a temporary spending bill, set to keep the government running through February 16th. Much of the debate that has prevented progress toward a more lasting bill has been surrounding the need to find a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program. Though it is not the program at issue in this case, H-2A can also be affected as a part of this postponement, as government shutdowns impact the agencies that process H-2A visas – notably the Department of Labor (DOL).

We have just received word that the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is showing up to agricultural employers, and in particular packing houses, in the Central Valley performing I-9 Audits. The most critical thing for employers to do in the event of an audit is BE PREPARED! You can find our Cheat Sheet™ for employers “What to Do When ICE Shows Up" here.

Reports of Increased Scrutiny For H-2A Employees At The Consulate

Some employers are reporting that H-2A employees who worked through the H-2A program in the past are now being denied entry due to failure to report an illegal entry over a decade ago. We have heard reports that the U.S. Consulate in Mexico has made some changes in its evaluation process of H-2A visa applications. Apparently, the Consulate is looking further back into each H-2A employee’s history to determine whether the individual has ever made illegal entry into the U.S. It is critical for employers to work with a knowledgeable team to ensure the experience at the Consulate goes smoothly. This is just a quick warning to be prepared for further vetting processes being implemented upon non-immigrant visa applicants. If you have questions about H-2 visa consular processing, you can find more information on the website for the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico here.

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