On September 10, 2023, over 100 House Democrats, led by Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), wrote President Biden and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking for executive action to support immigrants and asylum-seekers in getting work authorization.
The letter asks the Biden Administration to use “all the tools available to provide stability to undocumented individuals and recently arrived asylum seekers, seeking to work lawfully, support their families, and contribute to the economy.”
The letter suggests several paths to ease the burdens on asylum seekers in obtaining work authorization:
- Relieving Delays for EADs. Asylum seekers face significant regulatory and processing delays in obtaining employment authorization documents (EADs). Immigration courts present long delays to even apply. After that, there is a regulatory waiting period of 150 days for asylum seekers to apply for work authorization, and another 30 days to receive their EADs. During this time, refugees are forced to rely on underfunded community groups to provide housing, food, and health services, while many asylum seekers have the skills and desire to work and provide for their families independently.
- Humanitarian parole. The letter suggests using humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis, which has been used by both parties since the 1950s for urgent humanitarian reasons.
- Provisional waiver. The letter urges the administration to reduce the backlog in the provisional waiver program, which has been a successful program to reunite families designed to streamline the family-based immigration visa process. Backlogs have grown significantly, with the current wait time reaching 43 months (over 3 ½ years) as of this past April.
- Streamline cancellation of removal. Many eligible noncitizens residing in the U.S. only are aware of this program once they are in removal proceedings. The House Democrats urge the Biden administration to use rulemaking to implement a process to proactively request a case review to access this relief.