NYC Council Leaders Urge Congress to Expedite the Issuance of Work Papers for Migrants - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, February 6, 2023

NYC Council Leaders Urge Congress to Expedite the Issuance of Work Papers for Migrants

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It appears that those illegal immigrants that are seeking asylum in the Big Apple will be on track to gain employment opportunities.  As was reported by the Post on Thursday,  City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer are supporting Mayor Eric Adams’ urgent request to have the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approve an emergency measure that would expedite processing times for employment authorization applications submitted by asylum seekers.

The elected officials said they will be lobbying Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to get it done, according to the Post report.

In a letter sent on Thursday to the congressional delegation from New York City as well as the US Senators who represent the Empire State, Councilwoman Brewer (who was the former Manhattan Borough President) as well as Speaker Adams and five other members of the City Council said “We write to urge your support in requesting that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expedite processing times for applications for employment authorization (Form I-765) for individuals seeking asylum.”

They added in the letter that “local nonprofit providers and community based organizations are reporting processing times of six to 12 months for these applications. There is a significant backlog of applications for employment authorization and the agency must clear it.”

Currently, new arrivals to the United States who are seeking permission to work in gainful employment are required to apply for employment authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Post has reported that this process normally takes approximately six months after an individual files their asylum application, according to the Post report.

A copy of the letter was obtained by The Post and was written in the immediate aftermath of the request made on Tuesday by Mayor Eric Adams as it pertains to the federal government making every effort to circumvent the customary bureaucratic red tape that is normally associated with this process. Adams was aiming for expedited service to be granted to those individuals who seek working papers in order that they will not be forced to rely on money from taxpayers for their sustenance, the paper reported.

If the request from these elected officials is approved then the measure could permit an eligible portion of the roughly 10,000 migrants that have come to the Big Apple from the southern border to work, the Post reported.

In a telephone interview with the Post, Councilwoman Brewer said: “Every single restaurant, retail and construction needs people to work and these folks are willing to work! This is an extraordinary group of people and they could get back on their feet quickly.”

The Post reported that there was a federal rule that said applications must be processed within 30 days, but in August 2020 that month-long window was waived. During her interview with The Post Brewer said that the lack of expediency prevents  migrants who have arrived in New York City and are prepared to work from doing so and that scenario was totally unacceptable as the taxpayer will be compelled to pick up the tab for these migrants during these exceptionally trying financial times.

In a statement sent to the New York Post, Senator Kristen Gillibrand said: “Increasing efficiency and reducing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) backlog is going to be critical in reducing processing time for those applying for work permits.  This is why I fight to increase funding for USCIS in the annual appropriations process. It is critical that USCIS is fully funded so that the agency is able to address staffing shortages and have the capacity to process applications in a timely manner.”

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