On September 20, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a series of actions to increase enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border and accelerate work authorization processing.
Regarding the southern border, DHS outlined several enforcement changes, including deploying additional military personnel to support DHS, increasing holding capacity, and working with international partners to facilitate removals and returns.
The DHS also outlined its plan to work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve the processing of employment authorization documents (EADs) for certain applicants. For parolees who scheduled an appointment through the CBP One app and are eligible for work authorization immediately, the goal is to improve processing times from 90 days to 30 days. At the same time, USCIS will work to reduce the median EAD processing time for Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan parolees to 30 days.
To help ease the processing burden on related agencies, USCIS will increase the validity period of initial and renewal EADs to 5 years for refugees, asylees, recipients of withholding of removal, and those applying for asylum, adjustments of status, or cancellation of removal.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will also increase awareness to work-eligible individuals that they can apply for work authorization and provide instructions. CBP noted that only a small percentage of paroled individuals who have applied through the CBP One app have taken the extra steps to apply for work authorization. DHS will deploy increased messaging to raise awareness of eligibility and the process, as well as deploy extra personnel to New York to educate newly arrived immigrants on the U.S. immigration system and how to apply for work authorization.