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Wisconsin Immigration Lawyers Prepare for Immigration Reform

State Bar of Wisconsin Inside Track

Following is an excerpt:

As of 2010, it was estimated that approximately 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the U.S.; approximately 10,000 in Wisconsin. So how will potential immigration reforms impact the U.S. and Wisconsin? In the following article, Madison immigration lawyer Grant Sovern pinpoints potential changes, and how they will impact U.S. businesses, as well as the lawyers who advise them. In addition, the Inside Track caught up with other local immigration lawyers to explore immigration issues and how they are planning for change.

America Dives into Immigration Reform: How it Could Affect Businesses

While stories concerning proposed comprehensive immigration reform, and related political announcements from a bipartisan group of senators and President Obama, have flooded the news, specific proposals have remained limited.

Nevertheless, clients are understandably interested in knowing how these broad proposals might play out in a potential law that could be enacted this year. Here are some of the practical ways in which these proposals apparently will affect employers and employees in the U.S., should they become law:

Path to Citizenship for 11 million Undocumented People Currently in the U.S.

There will be increased border security, to a point deemed acceptable to a newly formed commission of governors, attorneys general and community leaders along the Southwest U.S. border, which will authorize the launch of a legalization program for undocumented immigrants.

Stronger prohibitions on racial profiling and excessive use of force in immigration enforcement will be included. Immigration authorities will employ an enhanced, existing screening system to track all noncitizens who leave the country, to aid in apprehending visa overstays.

Undocumented people will register, then pay any back taxes and a fine to earn a probationary legal status that will allow them to live and work temporarily in the U.S. People with a serious criminal history will be ineligible.

Once enforcement measures have been completed, those with probationary legal status must pass background checks, pay taxes, learn English and Civics, demonstrate a history of work in the U.S. and have current employment to earn lawful permanent resident status (green card), after all others in the legal pipeline have already earned their green cards.

Young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, and those undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. agriculture industry, will be eligible for green cards without fulfilling all of the above criteria.

Originally published in the State Bar of Wisconsin Inside Track, February 20, 2013