Following the enactment of President Obama’s deferred action program last week, many Americans are beginning to consider the consequences of the program both for young immigrants and the nation as a whole. Small business owners have many questions as they prepare for a potential flood of new job applicants who were previously unauthorized to work.
These questions will be particularly prevalent in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois, states that are home to 57 percent of the total population of potential beneficiaries. According to the Migration Policy Institute, three quarters of deferred action applicants hail from either Mexico or Central America.
There are many other questions that accompany the enactment of deferred action, such as whether the program will continue past the two-year deferral period if Obama is not reelected in November. Moreover, state-by-state enactment of the program has already varied greatly: while California has offered driver’s licenses to all deferred action recipients, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has barred recipients from receiving licenses and other state benefits.
MPI estimates that 80,000 of the potentially eligible beneficiaries have an associate’s degree or higher, 44 percent have a bachelor’s degree, and 8 percent have advanced degrees. Thus many newly authorized immigrants will find work in small businesses, in both skilled and unskilled positions.
New hires will present employment authorization cards to verify their employability. According to Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO, the cars look like driver’s licenses and should be accepted as legitimate documents. Difficulties may arise if existing employees who have previously used false documents present their EAD cards. If an employer decides to fire an immigrant based on their admission of a previous lie, he/she could face a potential discrimination claim.