43 mayors call on Biden admin. to extend immigrant work permits

Dozens of city mayors on Monday called on Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to extend the 180-day grace period for immigrant work permits to 540 days due to processing delays. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
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Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Nearly four dozen city mayors are calling on the Biden administration to extend work permits for migrants, stating that without the measure thousands will lose their jobs, businesses will be short-staffed and shelter space will become difficult to find.

The 43 mayors sent a letter Monday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou, asking them to issue an automatic extension of work authorization for a minimum of 540 days.

"Cities and counties have made it clear that asylum seekers and immigrants need work permits, and we are frustrated that our communities' immigrants may soon lose their work authorization due to processing delays and the federal government's inaction," the mayors said in the letter. "As a result, cities and counties will soon face even greater challenges if they lose their jobs, driver's licenses and access to healthcare and housing.

"Thus, we ask that you take our needs into account and ensure that this does not occur."

Due to lengthy processing delays Ii 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the 180-day grace period for which work permits remain vailed amid the renewal process to 540 days.

However, the extension expired on Oct. 26, reverting the grace period to 180 days, and the mayors are asking the federal government to again extend it to more than 17 months.

"Without this, hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will lose their work authorization, businesses will lose staff and our cities and counties will face an increasing challenge to provide shelter to the public," the mayors said in the letter.

According to the letter, there were some 263,000 Employment Authorization Document renewal applications pending as of June, meaning that without the 540-day extension, hundreds of thousands of immigrants may lose their ability to work in the coming months.

Signatories of the letter include New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

"New York City thrives on the diverse and dedicated contributions of these community members and stripping people of their right to work is simply un-American," Adams said in a statement accompanying the letter. "I'm hopeful the federal government acts swiftly to protect the stability and security of hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families."