James Wants DHS To Expedite Work Authorization for Newly Arrived Caribbean Migrants

Photo credit: Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James

Source : Caribbean Life
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday called on the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate action to grant work authorization permits for Caribbean and other migrants who are new to the United States.

Many of the refugees arriving in New York from the southern borders of the United States are nationals of Cuba and Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

As part of a coalition of 19 attorneys general, James sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the federal government to resolve the delays and bureaucratic inefficiencies that are preventing migrants from finding work and making it more difficult for states to provide sufficient resources to support migrants.

“For generations, immigrants have come to New York seeking new opportunities for themselves and their families, and recent arrivals are no different,” said Attorney General James. “But bureaucratic delays and a lack of work permits are depriving new immigrants of the chance to create a better life here in America.

“Moreover, these delays are hurting our economy by depriving businesses of a much-needed source of labor. Immigrants helped build the Empire State, and I will continue to fight to make sure they are treated with dignity and have a fair shot at the American dream,” she added.

While many newly arrived migrants are eligible for work authorization and eager to find employment, James said long processing delays have left many unable to support themselves and their families.

She said this has placed an increasing and unsustainable burden on states that offer support services to ensure that migrants do not go without food, shelter, medical care, and education.

The New York Attorney General said businesses are also experiencing increasing demand for workers in key industries like food service, retail, transportation, and health care.

“Expediting work authorization for migrants will help meet these demands and reduce the risk that workers will be subjected to depressed wages, poor working conditions, or other violations of their rights,” James said.

The coalition also noted that while a significant portion of migrants are immediately eligible for work permits, processing delays have left many waiting 10 months or more for authorization.

“Wait times are particularly long for those who require a fee waiver, as they cannot submit their applications online,” the statement said. “Of those migrants who have managed to secure employment authorization, many have lost their jobs due to the expiration of their work permits while renewal applications are pending.”

The attorneys general are urging the federal government to remedy these problems, and are specifically requesting that DHS grant work authorization when new arrivals are allowed to remain in the United States, and address inconsistent lengths of permitted time allowed in the United States and streamline renewal.

They also want the federal government to automatically renew work authorization permits whenever someone’s allowance to remain in the United States or other immigration status is renewed; and make work authorization applications with a fee waiver available online to streamline and expedite processes.

Joining Attorney General James in sending Wednesday’s letter are the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

James has consistently fought for immigrant communities across New York. In 2021, she led a coalition of 16 states to stop deportations of undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants and sued a bail bonds company that used deceptive and abusive tactics to prey on immigrants held in federal detention.

In 2020, she successfully sued the Trump administration to stop the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests at state courthouses and sued to stop the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census count.

Attorney General James has also been at the forefront of efforts to protect the Obama-era Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This year she led a coalition of 22 attorneys general to oppose a lawsuit seeking to end the program; and, in 2020, she led a coalition of states successfully arguing before the US Supreme Court in favor of keeping DACA in place.

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