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Over 40 Mayors and County Executives Urge the Biden Administration to Grant Work Authorizations to Long-Term Undocumented Immigrants 

Read the Full Letter Here 

NEW YORK - Over 40 Cities for Action (C4A) mayors, led by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, and county executives delivered a bipartisan letter to the Biden Administration, calling for work authorizations for both recent arrivals and longstanding undocumented immigrants, in the absence of long-awaited comprehensive reform. 

Mayor Brandon Johnson, Chicago, IL: “Chicago and Illinois are home to 320,000 undocumented Mexicans and Guatemalans, and 40,000 undocumented Haitians, Jamaicans, and Nigerians, and despite their lack of work authorization, they greatly contribute to our economies and neighborhoods,” said Mayor Johnson. “We continue to urge the federal government to use every tool at its disposal to support undocumented residents and new arrivals by giving people the ability to work, support their families, and contribute to our communities."  

Mayor Eric Adams, New York City, NY: “New York City is living proof that ‘The American Dream Works’ — our city wouldn’t be the greatest city in the world without generations of immigrants who have rolled up their sleeves and worked to shape this city,” said Mayor Adams. “But we know that the only way to make the American Dream work is if we let people work, because work is the foundation of that dream. In the absence of any long-overdue comprehensive reform by Congress, expanded work authorization for immigrants is a win-win-win: it allows immigrants to do what they came to this country to do and provide for their families, it prevents exploitation of workers, and it relieves some of the financial and logistical burden that shelter systems across the country have been under.”

The mayors and executives propose policy changes to streamline the process for obtaining work authorizations. These include expanding parole to cover 1.2 million undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens and focusing on long-term undocumented residents who have been in the country for over ten years. These measures aim to provide the stability and legal recognition needed to keep families together and allow more immigrants to contribute fully to their communities.

Legal scholars affirm the President’s authority to extend work permits to long term immigrants, and the support from 80+ members of Congress, American Business Immigration Coalition’s 300+ Employers, CEOs and Associations, bipartisan lawmakers, as well as labor organizations like UNITE HERE, the Teamsters, and United Auto Workers (UAW), underscores the broad consensus on this matter.

Extending work authorizations to both newly arrived and longstanding immigrants would be an economic benefit to the entire nation. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the U.S. GDP will be boosted by $7 trillion over the next ten years due to the contributions of new arriving immigrants. Authorized work is proven to lead to higher wages, reduced exploitation, and enhanced workplace safety and dignity. 

By extending work authorizations, the Biden Administration can take a significant step towards supporting these valuable community members who contribute extensively to the U.S. workforce and economy. The C4A mayors and executives are optimistic that their collective advocacy will drive long-awaited immigration policy reform that acknowledges and harnesses the vital role immigrants play in enriching the U.S. economy and society. 

Mayor Val Pennington, Bellevue, PA: “It is imperative to expand the availability of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to our long-term immigrant residents, as they have always been the backbone of the American workforce,” said Mayor Pennington. “We rely on these workers to provide the labor that keeps our country moving, as much as they rely on that work to provide for themselves and their families.”

Mayor John Giles, Mesa, AZ: "As the Mayor of the largest conservative city in America and from a border state, I urge President Biden to issue work permits to long term immigrants so we can fully unlock their potential and contributions to our community and economy."

Mayor Alix Desulme, North Miami, FL: "As the Mayor of North Miami,  a city enriched by the diversity of cultures brought by immigrants, I strongly advocate for expanding Employment Authorization Documents. In our beloved city, we recognize the invaluable contributions of our immigrant community,” said Mayor Desulme. “Granting EADs to our long-term immigrant residents is not just an act of justice; it is a crucial step toward harnessing the full potential of our community. This policy change would empower countless individuals with the right to work legally, thereby fostering economic growth, enhancing public safety, and promoting the inclusive, vibrant spirit that defines North Miami.”

Mayor Brett P. Smiley, Providence, Rhode Island: “Providence’s diverse immigrant population contributes to the vibrancy of our neighborhoods, our unique local businesses, and our world-class restaurants,” said Mayor Smiley. “I am proud to join my colleagues in encouraging the Department of Homeland Security to streamline the process for work authorization for Providence’s long-term and recent arrival immigrant residents. There is a clear consensus amongst leaders across the country that our immigrants add immeasurable value to our communities, and it is important that we prioritize their safety and well-being by extending their work permits.”

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, Somerville, MA: "Our communities are strengthened by the innovation, hard work, and creativity of immigrants. Somerville is proud to be home to generations of immigrants as well as newcomers who have built their lives here, raised families, started businesses, and pushed our city forward. We will only grow stronger with the opportunities that work authorizations grant. Our neighbors are here to work and we need them more than ever,” said Mayor Ballantyne. 

Mayor Thomas McLeod, Tukwila, WA: “Work authorization for long-term immigrants and recent arrivals to the United States is an essential component to addressing and mitigating the impacts of asylum seekers in our communities. Tukwila is a small city just south of Seattle that has become the epicenter in the Pacific Northwest for immigrants seeking a better life in America,” said Mayor McLeod. “Many of the individuals want to work to support their families, but can’t due to a variety of Federal restrictions. The inability to get a job greatly impacts the ability of these migrants to secure housing. As a result, families are forced to rely on assistance from local agencies, which are already strained due to this crisis, or forced to sleep outside. I strongly encourage the Federal government to act to remove these restrictions quickly. It’s critical we work together to provide migrants and our communities with the tools necessary for all of us to succeed."



About Cities for Action  

Cities for Action is a 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 on Twitter.

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