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Pingree, Barragán Lead 50 Members of Congress in Opposing Trump Rule Doubling Wait Time for Asylum Seeker Work Permits

Washington, January 14, 2020

A group of 50 members of Congress, led by  Congresswomen Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Nanette Barragán (D-California), have submitted official comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opposing a rule that would more than double the waiting period asylum seekers must wait to apply for work authorization from 150 days to 365 days.

“We are concerned that the proposed changes will cause hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers to wait for much longer periods of time before they can work legally and will prevent many asylum seekers from receiving work authorization at all,” the members wrote. “Because of backlogs in asylum case processing, these changes would mean that many asylum applicants have to wait years before receiving a final decision on their asylum case or the ability to work lawfully. Also, thousands of asylum seekers who have been legally working while their cases are pending will be unable to renew their work authorizations and will likely be forced to leave their jobs.”

“We are concerned about the impact of the proposed rule on local businesses in our communities…” the members continued. “In an economy with historically low unemployment, employers in many regions are looking to asylum seekers as a source of needed labor when domestic citizen workers are not available.  Many business sectors rely heavily on the labor of immigrants, including asylum seekers with work authorization while their cases are pending before an immigration judge or an asylum officer.”

Read their full letter here.

The public comment period on the new rule closed Monday, January 13.

In the 116th Congress, Congresswoman Pingree introduced H.R 2813 Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, which would reduce the current 180-day waiting period for asylum seekers to apply for work authorization to 30 days. Thus, an asylum seeker could apply for authorization as soon as the asylum claim is filed. 

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