Approximately one million immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 are expected to meet the eligibility requirements of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). An additional 500,000 are expected to meet the requirements in the future. Texas is estimated to have 152,550 immediate beneficiaries of DACA, many of whom will be legally allowed to work in the United States in the near future.
DACA, commonly referred to as the “DREAM Act policy,” is the Department of Homeland Security’s policy initiative released on June 15, 2012. According to DACA, eligible immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally before the age of 15, and who were not over the age of 30 on June 15 of this year, may apply for deferred action, which means that they will not be deported for two years. Most notably, eligible applicants may receive employment authorization to legally work for any U.S. employer during those two years.
Fifty-one percent of all retail workers are between the ages of 16 and 34, according to a report published in 2010 by the National Retail Federation. Additionally, fifty-nine percent of all food service and food-preparation employees are under the age of 25. Over 82,000 DACA applications have been received since Aug. 15 of this year. Based on these statistics, Texas retailers and food service employers, among others, could expect to see a rise in job applications very soon. This spike in job applications and new hires could have a significant impact on Texas employers.
Employers who hire foreign workers should contact their immigration counsel to review hiring policies and practices to ensure that employment eligibility verification procedures are met, and that all Forms I-9 are properly documented and stored. Simultaneously, employers must ensure that they are not violating employment discrimination laws or immigration-related unfair employment practices laws enforced by the Department of Justice.