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The fate of many immigrant tech workers hangs on the election

The outcome of next week's presidential election could have a significant impact on the lives of many immigrants here in Georgia and the rest of the country. A number of undocumented immigrants who came here with their families when they were still children have been allowed to stay in this country and get Social Security numbers, IDs and the work permits they need to go to school and get a job under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program without fear of being "discovered" and deported. The program was implemented by President Obama.

There are currently about 728,000 who have been allowed to legally remain in this country thanks to DACA. Many of these folks are tech workers providing much-needed computer, software development and programming skills.

The two major party candidates have very different views towards immigrants and plans for what should happen to them if they win. Hillary Clinton says she will keep DACA in place if she wins and work toward comprehensive immigration reforms that would give undocumented residents a path to citizenship. Of course, the latter would require the approval of Congress.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump's views on immigrants have been a cornerstone of his campaign. He has vowed to end DACA if he wins the presidency and talked of deporting the roughly 11 million immigrants in this country who are undocumented.

Therefore, the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have come out of the shadows to apply for and receive protection from deportation via DACA are facing an uncertain future. Of course, so are the many other immigrants with a high-tech education and skills who didn't qualify for DACA.

Some of them have started their own tech businesses since they can't get jobs with Silicon Valley tech giants like Google or Facebook because of their status. If Clinton is elected and able to get her immigration reforms through Congress, it could open up the pool of highly-skilled tech workers for these companies.

Whatever the outcome of the election and proposed immigration reforms, it's essential for people who are in this country undocumented, on work visas or under a program like DACA to know what their legal status and rights are. Experienced Georgia immigration lawyers can provide guidance.

Source: Inc., "As Election Looms, Undocumented Tech Workers Face Uncertainty Over Their Future," Salvador Rodriguez, Oct. 27, 2016

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