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House Democrats urge Biden to ease work permit rules for migrants, asylum seekers

UPI

Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Dozens of House Democrats are urging the Biden administration to take whatever steps are necessary to speed the process of granting work permits to undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.

In a letter dated Sunday and signed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking minority member on the House Judiciary Committee, and 102 other Democrats, lawmakers urge President Joe Biden and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to "use all the tools available" to assist migrants who seek but can't obtain work permits as they wait for their immigration court cases to be heard.

The letter, first obtained by Politico, said such migrants are "stuck in limbo" without the ability to obtain work authorizations despite "want[ing] to work and give back to their new communities."

Asylum seekers, the lawmakers wrote, "should be permitted to apply to obtain work authorization from the moment that they file their asylum claim." Instead, under current regulations, they must wait up to six months after submitting asylum applications before work authorizations can be issued.

"As a result, asylum seekers are forced to rely on underfunded community groups to provide them with everything from housing to food to health services," they wrote. "This is particularly troubling given the tight labor market we are experiencing across the country."

The Democrats urged the Biden administration to "ease the undue delays" by adopting a series of available measures, such as the increased use of "humanitarian parole" and "provisional waivers" and decreasing the regulatory 150-day wait period for asylum seekers to apply for work authorization.

The plea comes at a time when the House Republican majority is seeking to clamp down on undocumented migrants and asylum seekers rather than easing their transition into the United States.

Conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus last month threatened to force a government shutdown unless the measures contained in the "Secure the Border Act of 2023" are enacted as part of any stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government functioning amid the debate on appropriations measures.

Among its other provisions, the legislation would restart construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall and slap new restrictions on asylum seekers.