The enormous financial pressure that the Big Apple continues to generate arrival of more than 110,000 immigrantssince spring 2022, is forcing elected leaders of NY to come up with some policies that, in theory, would prevent the City budget continues to be drained by this crisis.
And in this direction, increasingly amplified pressures arise towards the federal government, so that Streamline approval of work permit authorizationfor newcomers who apply.
In this complex panorama, a state legislative proposal is now being considered, which puts a new card on the table: Create emergency state work permits, specifically for asylum seekers.
The ‘NEXT-WP’ legislative proposal released this week by the assemblywoman Catalina Cruz and the Senator Luis Sepúlvedawould open the way for asylum seekers to obtain work authorizations, allowing them to integrate more quickly into the local economy. And stop depending on social programs and shelters.
“Although the federal government stipulates a waiting period of six months, for work authorization, in practice we have seen much longer waiting times. Meanwhile, many of these new arrivals and their families must face eviction from their shelters. “We are responding to the emergent nature of this situation.”explained to The newspaper, the assemblywoman of Colombian origin Catalina Cruz.
The implementation of this legislative idea, in the heat of this emergency, would depend on the calling of extraordinary sessions in the State Legislature In the next weeks, as even the Republican minority has requested.
Likewise, the Governor Kathy Hochul It has emerged that the possibility of activating legislative work before January is not ruled out.
So far, it is only clear from the first drafts of the legislation that only beneficiaries of this “emergency work permit” would be granted. Immigrants who have formally requested asylum and are stuck in long waiting timeswhich involves this procedure before the federal government.
Likewise, Senator Sepúlveda expressed in a statement that he was proud to sponsor the NEXT-WP Law, together with Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, in “these difficult times.”
“New York State needs to lead by example. Long waiting times to obtain work authorizations, have left our newcomers in a vulnerable position, depending on limited resources and facing possible evictions. We have the moral and economic responsibility to act”, said Sepúlveda.
Local New York City legislators, mayor Eric Adams and the governor Kathy Hochul, have agreed for several months that the federal government must put the accelerator on the issuance of cardswhich allow newcomers, work legally and quickly achieve independence.
The legislators’ criterion is that by granting emergency state work permits, it would not only alleviate the burden on the state’s resources, but also free up the potential of thousands of people “eager” to contribute to the workforceaddressing labor shortages in various sectors.
In this case, if a legislative agreement is reached, the Department of Labor would regulate in detail who, how and when could receive this benefit.
“This temporary emergency program will step in to fill the void left by federal inaction. This legislation is not just about permits, is a bold statement of New York’s responsiveness”said Assemblywoman Cruz.
There are some precedents in the country of this type of preliminary projects.
A bipartisan group of California state legislatorsunsuccessfully introduced a bill a couple of years ago that would lead to the creation of a work permit program in that state, aimed specifically at agricultural workers and service employees, without legal residence in the country.
Other ideas have appeared on the stage, given the acuteness of this crisis: Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar is introducing legislation that would prevent county governments from banning asylum seekers from their communities.
In addition, a measure is proposed to create a state coordinator for the immigration crisis. This position would be appointed jointly by Adams and Hochul.
Faced with the challenges of providing some legal relief for newcomers, so they can work legallyseveral questions arise in New York, which do not seem to have answers: How many of the immigrants who are under the care of the municipal government, living in shelters, actually apply for a work permit? Is there any approximation of who has already formally sent the asylum request? The response to several queries advanced by The newspaperto municipal sources, is a resounding: No!
According to a report published by The New York Times (TNYT)people entering the United States often tell authorities where they intend to go after leaving the border.
Federal officials cited by TNYT said they did not know exactly “How many of the 110,000 immigrants who arrived in New York City, As of last year, they were currently eligible for work permits.”
Some could have entered the United States legally, through a program that allows them to stay in the country, for up to two years, if they flee Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua or Venezuela.
Others could have used a new app Customs and Border Protection to make appointments at the border.
But as the New York newspaper explains, others who arrived in New York City may be what border authorities call “escapees,” that is, people who evaded the authorities at the border and managed to arrive without being detained. Those people would not be eligible for work permits, because they entered the United States illegally.
The 150 day threshold
As federal officials explain, immigrants who arrived illegally in the United States and have since begun the process to request asylum, They must wait 150 days before applying for a work permit.
People who are close to the threshold of those 150 days, are currently among the recipients of text messages and QR codes. It is confirmed that federal officials have sent “more than one million text messages to immigrants across the country who are eligible for permits to work in the United States, but have not yet applied for them.”
Authorities say the messages, which are sent in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Russian and other languagesare a “one-of-a-kind national campaign” conducted by the federal government.
Additionally, they have distributed flyers with QR codes to post in residential facilities, shelters, legal services clinics, and other public places where newcomers gather. Immigrants can scan the codes with their phonesfor information on how to download these work authorization documents.
Be careful with the messages
In this sense, Wendell Oviedo, spokesperson for the América Diversa organization which provides support to LGBTQIA communities in New York, believes that requests from authorities and community leaders for work permits and other benefits should be disseminated more clearly and grounded in the reality of the “country’s obsolete immigration system.”
In this way, in Oviedo’s opinion, only It feeds the narrative of human traffickers, coyote mafias and scammers.
“The welcome message, without informing about the risks, only further encourages the immigration crisis. Thousands of people who are practically trapped in the shelter system were attracted by mirages, that just by stepping foot in New York, you have the right to stable housing and thousands of job opportunities. Videos circulate of mafias that promote bringing immigrants in tourist packages under that promise. And people plunged into terrible social crises in their countries of origin easily fall into this trap.“said the activist.
For Oviedo it can be “very dangerous” that now it is put in the collective imagination that “New York now makes it easier to get papers.”
“Hundreds have already been here for more than a year and have not been able to formally apply for asylum. Others have been waiting months for a work permit. Others have no idea how they are going to adjust their status. Of these three groups, it is not known which is the majority, because all newcomers are simply included as asylum seekers. And it is not true”he clarified.
A survey approves “express” permits:
- 59% of the participants in a Sienna College Opinion Study between September 5 and 8 they said they would support “making it easier for immigrants currently in New York to be granted work authorizations regardless of their current immigration status.”
- 33% did not agree with that possibility.
- 67% of respondents in New York City agreed that “many businesses need new immigrants to Accept entry-level jobs to be successful”
- 10,000 immigrants On average, they have entered New York per month in the last year.
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