FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2023
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Over 50 Cities for Action (C4A) Mayors & County Executives Call on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Address Inefficiencies and Inequities in the Processing of Form I-765, Applications for Employment Authorization
Today, over 50 Cities for Action mayors and county executives sent a bipartisan letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to request it address a critical issue facing many cities and counties. In the letter, local leaders request that DHS accelerate work permit processing, as well as address the inefficiencies and inequities in the policies and regulations on the processing of and access to employment authorization documents (EADs).
The letter highlights that delays in processing the Form I-765 not only wreak havoc on the lives of asylum seekers, parolees, employers, and their local economies, but also place significant burdens on receiving communities. Local communities across the country have asylum seekers that want to work to support themselves and their families, and at the same time, the employers in these cities face a historic labor shortage. Addressing the work permit backlog will help get work permits into the hands of asylum seekers as soon as possible while expanding the available workforce within our cities and counties.
The letter outlines several policy and regulatory actions that DHS could take immediately to improve the adjudication process of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
New York, NY, Mayor Eric Adams: “I've spoken with countless asylum seekers who all tell me they want the same thing: the ability to work," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "As we've said for months, expediting work authorization for asylum seekers is a win-win, setting up arriving families for success and supporting our local economies. I join my fellow Cities for Action mayors and county executives across the country in calling on our federal partners to address the bureaucratic slowdowns and expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers.”
Boston, MA, Mayor Michelle Wu: "Ensuring efficient work permit processing and employment authorization documents processing and access at the federal level is crucial to provide stability for asylum seekers and their families here in Boston," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "These critical actions will support a more humane, predictable process for asylum seekers, their families, and all of our communities.”
Carmel, IN, Mayor Jim Brainard: "A critical aspect to resettlement is employment. I believe the federal government must give asylum seekers the opportunity to work while giving our economy the boost it needs,” said Carmel, Indiana, Mayor Jim Brainard. “Our cities and municipalities often hear from asylum seekers that they desperately want to work in order to provide for themselves and their families. America has been built by immigrants that sought freedom and opportunity and these immigrants are no different than those that came before to our shores. They want to contribute, build community, and make a new home here. An eight month waiting period for a work-permit is much too long. In the meantime, receiving cities and counties are filling in the gaps to ensure that asylum seekers are supported throughout their journey."
Philadelphia, PA, Mayor Jim Kenney: “When people—including refugees and asylum seekers—have the right and opportunity to work, they are not only provided a means to care for their loved ones, but they become important contributors to the overall strength and sustainability of our economies,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must take immediate action to remedy the existing and harmful backlog on processing work permits as well as take the necessary steps to improve the system long-term.”
Somerset, MD, Mayor Jeffrey Slavin: “Somerset is a welcoming, neighborly town that thrives on hard work and community ties. Many of our new neighbors are people looking for a safe haven where they can rebuild their lives and raise their kids, but they are waiting 8 months to over a year to get work authorization. No one - especially families fleeing violence - can wait a year to pay rent and put food on the table. Asylum seekers have told us that they need faster access to work permits, and Somerset needs their contributions to our community. As we navigate through a historic labor shortage, let’s make sure that everyone living in Somerset has every opportunity to work to support themselves and their family. It’s the right thing to do.”
Wausau, WI, Mayor Katie Rosenberg: “Over the last several years, we’ve seen that the delays in employment authorization application processing not only hurts individuals who are in limbo, waiting for approval to start supporting themselves, but also hurts their families and the whole heartland economy that was built by and continues to be bolstered by the hard work of immigrants of all kinds. From agricultural processors to the hospitality industry to right here in local government, I’ve heard over and over from employers in Central Wisconsin that they can’t find enough employees. This is at the same time, we have months-long waiting lists for people who want to work here so they can support their families. The ethical way to continue rebuilding our economy, especially in our nation’s heartland, is to immediately address the delays, gaps, and inequalities in the permitting and authorization process.”
About Cities for Action
Cities for Action is a bipartisan coalition of nearly 200 U.S. mayors and county executives working to advocate for and promote civic inclusion of our immigrant communities. Click HERE to see a list of Cities for Action mayors and county executives. To learn more about our work, follow us onTwitter.