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Mayor Eric Adams Urges Biden Administration to Provide Expedited, Emergency Paths to Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

NEW YORK – As Republican leaders in Congress continue to refuse to provide any support for cities or states that have seen a mass influx of asylum seekers, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, members of the Adams administration, and elected officials today urged the Biden administration to immediately enhance paths to work authorization for asylum seekers currently in the U.S. and those who continue to arrive every day. It has been approximately one year since asylum seekers first started to be bussed to the five boroughs, and New York City still continues to receive approximately 200 asylum seekers each day — a number that’s only expected to grow following the lifting of Title 42 on May 11, 2023.

Mayor Adams is calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants coming from Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, and Cameroon, to expand access to humanitarian parole for newly arriving asylum seekers and asylum seekers already in the United States, and to increase the number of and reassign existing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to reduce application processing times. All of these actions can immediately be taken by the executive branch of the federal government and without legislation being passed by Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to offer any support for the ongoing crisis.

“As a city, we have done everything in our power to provide support to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived at our doorstep,” said Mayor Adams. “While New York City has shouldered the costs of this crisis largely alone, we have always said that this is a national crisis that requires a coordinated, comprehensive response from the federal government. To deny people the ability to work legally sets them up for failure. The actions we’re urging our federal partners to do, all of which can be done without support from the Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to do their jobs, will ensure that asylum seekers in New York City, and across the country, can do what they came here to do — work lawfully and build stable lives.”

“For almost a year, asylum seekers have arrived in New York City to escape hardship and start their lives,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “However, until they have an opportunity for safe, legal work, they will continue to be at a standstill. This administration is urging our federal partners to act now and make sure asylum seekers have a fair shot at success in our country, starting with providing a path to work authorization.”

“The message from the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived to New York City has been clear — we want to work,” said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. “Asylum seekers want to contribute to New York City and the country, but until the federal government grants them the opportunity for legal work, they’ll be denied that opportunity. We are urging our federal partners to do what’s right and create a path forward for asylum seekers to safely enter our economy and start their American Dream.”

“For nearly a year, tens of thousands of people have come to New York City seeking asylum,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “We have stepped up, providing shelter, medical care, and educational support for children. However, this all comes with a cost that must be shared with our federal partners. We come together once more to call upon our federal partners to provide an efficient pathway to work for people seeking asylum that can and want to contribute to our local economy.”   

“While our administration has been leading the charge to respond to this humanitarian crisis, we need the federal government to support a nationwide strategy,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro. “Thousands of recently arrived New Yorkers, unable to return to their home countries due to dangerous and unsafe circumstances, can be protected through TPS and humanitarian parole.”

The Adams administration has been calling upon the federal and state governments to provide additional support to address the influx of asylum seekers since last year. Today’s call lays out three concrete steps that the executive branch of the federal government can immediately take to expedite work authorization for asylum seekers:

  • Given the continued worsening humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, and Cameroon, re-designating TPS to a more recent date and extending the eligibility period would allow a higher number of asylum seekers to access TPS protection. TPS-eligible individuals are able to receive work authorization for the duration of their TPS. 
  • Providing access to humanitarian parole for asylum seekers in the United States and those crossing the border and allowing them to extend, as necessary, will further expedite access to work authorization. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security can exercise their discretion to provide humanitarian parole to individuals at the border and already in the United States, who can then apply for work authorization. 
  • Surging additional USCIS officers to process key application types may dramatically reduce TPS and work authorization application processing times, including for individuals with pending asylum applications.

As of March 31, 2023, New York City alone has incurred more than $817 million in costs related to housing and caring for the asylum seeker population. Over Fiscal Year 2023, the city anticipates spending $1.4 billion, and $2.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2024. This means an estimated total of $4.3 billion will be spent by June 30, 2024. 

Despite calls for additional support for months, New York City faces these costs alone, without adequate support from the federal or state governments. This is an unsustainable fiscal burden that strains the city’s budget and places at risk funding for programs and services that benefit New Yorkers. 

“Our immigration system is in desperate need of repair,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee last Congress, I was proud to advance legislation to reform our immigration system by establishing real legal pathways for migrants who are fleeing terrible situations or want to be reunited with family. The ability to seek asylum is a bedrock principle protected by federal law. Unfortunately, with Republicans now in control of the House, they have made it clear they will not fix this crisis which is growing by the day. In the face of their inaction, I urge President Biden to redesignate TPS for Venezuela and expand humanitarian parole access for asylum seekers so they can get the work authorizations they desperately need to get on their feet and build their lives in the United States.”

“As Americans, we have a moral responsibility to fix our broken asylum system,” said U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke. “I am proud to join my colleagues in Congress and Mayor Adams to help enhance paths to work authorization for asylum seekers currently in the U.S. Given the partisan climate created by Republicans – it’s time the administration takes the necessary steps to expedite work authorization for asylum seekers.”
“Over the past several months, New York City has welcomed thousands of migrants with open arms as they have arrived in our city,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “Last year, House Democrats responded with the need to expand funding and new resources to help cities with the influx of migrants, and help our federal agencies quickly respond and process asylum claims. We must continue working to strengthen New York City’s ability to help incoming immigrants and asylum seekers obtain work authorization.
 “As New York and the nation continues to welcome a growing number of asylum seekers, and as many businesses suffer from labor shortages, we must do everything we can to expedite the process through which new arrivals can begin to work in our city,” said U.S. Representative Dan Goldman. “When I visited the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center that was located in my district, the most common request from migrants staying there was to get lawful work. Likewise, the business community has expressed a need for more workers. The Biden administration has the opportunity to expedite pathways to work authorization for new arrivals and our hope is that the administration will continue to be a productive partner as we work to address this crisis and welcome our new neighbors.”
“Since May, more than 55,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York state – the largest influx in recent memory,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. “In December, I helped lead a letter with over two dozen of my colleagues calling on U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to facilitate expedited work permits for asylum-seekers. Particularly with the increased exploitation of migrant children, this moment calls for a robust, coordinated response from the federal level down to the local level. I join Mayor Adams in urging the Biden administration to provide paths to work authorization for asylum seekers and ensure that all those who are able to work have the ability to do so.”
“I join Mayor Eric Adams in asking President Biden to grant a pathway to work authorization for the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have fled to New York City,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “These immigrants are eager to work and to have the financial security, sense of purpose, and ticket to the American Dream that a job provides. Providing them with work authorization is a win-win as it will also lead to a new pool of talent boosting our economy. Indeed, just a ten percent increase in asylum seeker resettlement grows the economy by over $8.9 billion and adds more than $1.5 billion to government coffers. Under the leadership of Mayor Adams, New York City has welcomed more than 50,000 asylum seekers in the past 12 months. But immigration law is federally controlled and to adequately manage the ongoing crisis, our city needs the federal government to step in, help the people of New York, and provide these asylum seekers with a pathway to work authorization.”

“The federal government should grant humanitarian parole of at least two years to the migrants who are already in the city,” said New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer. “Humanitarian parole provides temporary lawful status in the United States while cases are adjudicated and allows migrants to secure work authorization within five to ten months. Homeland Security has the discretion to grant humanitarian parole without congressional action. Humanitarian parole is adaptable and immediate. The regulation is broad: parole can be granted for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Clearly both apply to what’s happening in New York City.”

“The federal government must step up and prioritize the basic human rights and dignity of asylum seekers by creating accessible paths to work authorization,” said New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher. “Providing the opportunity for asylum seekers to support themselves and their families and contribute to New York City’s economy is a moral imperative. In addition to benefiting our city, state, and nation, it would demonstrate our collective compassion and commitment to justice.”

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