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Asylum-seekers have to wait 6 months to work in US per federal law

May 22, 2023

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Asylum applicants in New York City are stuck in limbo and unable to work despite a strong desire to do so, according to the mayor and governor. The elected leaders are now calling for a change to federal law which requires asylum-seekers to wait at least six months before they can legally get a job. 

“This crisis is probably one of the greatest humanitarian crises that has hit our city in a long time,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams, D, said. 

U.S. law requires immigrants with pending asylum claims to wait 150 days after they file their asylum paperwork to apply for employment authorization. They are not eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for at least another 30 days.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Services, that is commonly referred to as the “180-Day Asylum EAD Clock.”

“That’s not working. That’s not a solution. They’re ready to work, they’re willing to work and they’re not able to work,” Gov. Kathy Hochul, D, said “We need this help from Washington.” 

Hochul and Adams are both calling on Washington, D.C., to create an expedited work authorization process for asylum-seekers. 

New York’s congressional delegation, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D, are calling on President Biden to let asylum-seekers immediately apply for work authorizations by expanding his parole program. 

“Allowing earlier access to work permits would decrease the pressure on NGOs and other community groups and provide asylum seekers with the opportunity to live more independent lives,” the group said in a letter to the president. 

“Instead of providing a safe haven for people fleeing persecution, we keep them in a limbo state where they want and need to provide for themselves but are legally barred from doing so,” the letter added.  

This issue is straining nonprofits, local and state governments across the country.

Straight Arrow News interviewed immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area who said they are trying to support their family.

“We came here hungry, but hungry to work,” Luis Cumare, an immigrant from Venezuela, told Straight Arrow News. 

When Cumare arrived in the United States, he boarded a bus in Texas to Washington, D.C., and stayed at a church in Maryland that provided him with food and shelter.

The church was relying on donations from parishioners to cover the expenses which included food, electricity, shelter and other expenses. The priest said it cost $1,300 a month per immigrant. 

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Record immigration is overwhelming shelters and even our nation’s biggest city. 

Mayor Eric Adam: “This crisis is probably one of the greatest humanitarian crises that has hit our city in a long time.” 

 

But why are asylum seekers so dependent on aid? Many say they came here looking to work.

 

Luis Cumare, Venezuela: “We came here hungry but hungry to work.” 

 

So why don’t they work? The answer – federal law doesn’t allow asylum seekers to work for at least six months. 

Immigrants with pending asylum claims may file an application for employment authorization 150 days after they file their asylum paperwork. They are not eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, for at least another 30 days. Citizenship and immigration services says this is commonly referred to as the 180-Day Asylum EAD Clock. 

 

Gov. Kathy Hochul: “That’s not working. That’s not a solution. They’re ready to work, they’re willing to work and they’re not able to work. …. We need this help from Washington.” 

 

Mayor Adams, Governor Hochul, and New York’s Congressional delegation are all calling for an expedited work authorization. 

 

The members of Congress, led by Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wrote to President Biden saying the situation: “worsens widespread labor shortages and hobbles the U.S. economy at a time when more than 10 million jobs remain unfilled. Cities and states across the country desperately need workers. 

 

They added:  “Instead of providing a safe haven for people fleeing persecution, we keep them in a limbo state where they want and need to provide for themselves but are legally barred from doing so.” 

 

The letter called on President Biden to expand his parole program, allowing immigrants to immediately apply for a work authorization. But Republicans have called for stricter asylum rules, and a recent immigration bill the GOP passed in the House did not address it. STraight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.

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