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The Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acknowledged this week that due to delays in the renewal of work permits thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs or are at risk of the above.
“We are aware of the problem,” a USCIS official acknowledged to the CNN news network.
The agency deal with an unprecedented backlog of files to be processed. As of June 30, it had about 1.4 million applications for employment authorization pending, double the number before the pandemic and triple the number when former President Donald Trump arrived at the White House in early 2017.
The situation not only affects immigrants without work permits who must adjust their lifestyle even with the economic crisis due to the coronavirus in tow and the festive Christmas season; also to employers who lose essential workers in the battle to keep their workforce.
Vera de Aponte, a Florida-registered Special Needs Behavior Technician who applied for asylum in the United States, you had to quit your job because your permit expired, and make various adjustments to your family plans.
“I had to talk to my daughter about the situation… It is not in my hands. It’s frustrating, how do I explain that to her? I can’t buy Christmas gifts for her because I’m afraid of spending the money, ”De Aponte told the chain.
Some immigrants, including asylum seekers, can work in the U.S. while their cases are pending (a process that sometimes takes years to complete), and you are required to renew your permits regularly.
If that process is not completed, the permits expire, forcing employers to fire workers.
“The severity of the labor shortage is unprecedented“Said Gad Levanon, vice president of labor markets at The Conference Board, a group of business experts. “When the labor shortage is so severe, any additional factor that takes people out of the job market is more noticeable,” he said.
In the past few weeks, the Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project has received questions from people who warn that their work permits have expired or are about to expire. Leidy Perez-Davis, the organization’s policy director, explained that among those affected are doctors and specialists who cared for patients at the peak of the coronavirus last year, as well as engineers and truck drivers.
The Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project in conjunction with the American Immigration Council and Lakin & Wille LLP filed a lawsuit this month challenging the unreasonable delays in renewing asylum seekers’ job authorizations.
The crisis is not due to a single factor. However, since the Trump Administration, before the pandemic, complicated the application procedures, USCIS faces budget shortfall. This led the agency to freeze the hiring of new employees in addition to firing contractors. Subsequently, the impact of COVID-19 also generated delays in the processes of that office.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.