Immigration Law Affects Everyone

There is a widely-held perception that only undocumented folks are affected by United States immigration law. I recently contacted an attorney friend about a personal injury legal matter involving my family. In an effort to support my immigration practice, she enthusiastically offered to refer potential clients to me, because, she said, “Even illegals get hurt.” I chose not to launch into a lecture about most of my clients being legally in the United States, but her comment continues to trouble me. This is why.

There is a huge, intricate body of immigration law and regulations developed to control the movement of people into, and out of, the United States. These laws and regulations touch, in some way, the lives of nearly every person living in the United States, citizens included. Subjects addressed by these laws and regulations include travel documents required of United States citizens, procedures United States citizens must follow to bring foreign-born adopted children, fiancees and spouses to the United States, the activities in which non-citizens may participate and for how long they may stay, and tax and estate planning issues, to name just a few.

There are innumerable immigration laws affecting companies doing business in the United States. Employers must verify the identity and work authorization of every new employee, including U. S. citizens. The forms that employers complete during that verification process are subject to review by state and federal government agencies; and employers who are not in compliance are subject to hefty fines. Immigration laws regulate tax and benefits issues relating to non-citizens, and they control the structure of business entities that include non-citizen owners. Employers wanting to bring foreign workers into the United States must comply with complicated procedures set forth in the immigration law.

There are, of course, many skilled and dedicated attorneys who represent persons who are in the United States without authorization. To assume, however, that all immigration lawyers must represent “illegals,” as my attorney acquaintance did, represents a gross misunderstanding of the breadth of United States immigration law.

This article should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult an immigration attorney for advice specific to your situation.