Gov. Hochul Joins Adams To Call For Work Authorization For Asylum Seekers

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is calling on the Biden administration to expedite work authorization for tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who have arrived in the state over the past few months.

On Monday, Hochul held a press briefing with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, where the pair called on Biden to use his presidential powers to speed up the process of authorizing work permits for migrants.

“We’re spending a lot of money, we’re doing what we can, but we need this help from Washington,” Hochul said in remarks live-streamed from New York City.

Hochul said many asylum-seekers arrive in New York looking for work but end up “in limbo” while they wait for work authorization from the federal government, which could take up to 180 days to process.

“People come here, they’re desperate, they’re trying to get on their feet, and they don’t know the language,” the Democrat said. “They’re ready to work, they’re willing to work, but they’re not able to work.”

Meanwhile, the state is wrestling with a persistent hiring crunch with more than 5,000 vacant farming jobs in upstate New York, along with another 5,000 food service jobs and thousands of janitorial jobs that the new arrivals could fill if work authorization were expedited.

Hochul also called on the Biden administration to provide more immigration judges to help process cases for asylum-seekers seeking work authorization and permanent status.

“We don’t have enough judges in the state of New York,” she said. “Give us the support we need so they can start filling out the asylum process.”

In New York City, officials say they have taken in more than 60,000 asylum seekers and spent $1 billion to provide housing, food and other assistance, with the costs expected to skyrocket to $4 billion by next year.

Many migrants are being housed in hotels repurposed by the city as make-shift refugee centers at a cost to the state’s taxpayers.

The migrant crisis has divided state leaders, in many cases along party lines, with county executives in Republican strongholds declaring states of emergency to prevent Adams from relocating hundreds of asylum seekers to upstate counties. Last week, a judge granted a restraining order blocking asylum seeker relocations to Orange County.

Hochul criticized those policies as “bigoted” and urged other state officials to work together to solve the problem.

Adams said the Big Apple is doing what it can to provide housing, food and medical care for the asylum seekers, but said the delays in federal work authorization are driving workers to under-the-counter jobs that deprive the state of tax dollars and increase the likelihood that they could be exploited.

“It is creating an underground market, where individuals can be exploited, unable to pay into our tax base, working long hours and dangerous jobs, because they are living in the shadows of the American dream,” he said during Monday’s briefing. “It increases the risk that they can be abused.”

Hochul and Adams praised the Biden administration for setting a new immigration policy that disqualifies migrants from receiving U.S. protection if they don’t seek refugee status in another country, like Mexico, along their journey to the border.

The move comes in response to the lapse of Title 42, a policy that has for three years allowed federal immigration officials to quickly return asylum seekers over the border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions lapsed about two weeks ago, prompting concerns about a surge of asylum seekers on the southern border.

“That is a shift in policy that we hope will be successful and mitigate the flow of new arrivals here,” Hochul said. “But in the meantime, we need to deal with the individuals with us now.”


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