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DOJ proposes anti-discrimination provisions to immigration law

The United States Department of Justice is proposing changes that are associated with the Immigration and Nationality Act that could affect immigrants throughout California and the rest of the country. Namely, the DOJ is seeking to add the intent requirement found in this act to the Code of Federal Regulations.

The proposed changes would affect employment-based immigration practices. They would allow the DOJ to investigate employee complaints regarding unfair immigration acts committed against them. Currently, the time limit to file a claim of this nature is 180 days. If the new rule is adopted, this time limit will increase to five years. Under the proposal, an employer that intentionally treated an employee or applicant differently because of citizenship status or national origin could be subject to penalties. This can be the result even if the employer did not act with any hostility toward the applicant or employee.

Other proposed changes include updating how discrimination charges can be filed and clarifying procedures regarding the processing of claims regarding discriminatory intent. Additionally, the proposal would codify the authority that the agency has to preserve evidence once there is an investigation regarding discriminatory practices associated with immigration status is underway.

Given the complexity involved with employment-based visas, employers are encouraged to review their immigration practices with legal counsel to ensure that they will be in compliance if the new rules are implemented. Similarly, people who believe that they have been illegally discriminated against in the employment process based on their immigration status or national origin may want to meet with an immigration lawyer to learn about their rights.The public is invited to comment on the proposed changes until Sept. 14, 2016.

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