Attorney General Ford Wants Trump Administration to Withdraw Proposal Preventing Asylum-Seekers’ Ability to Access Work Permits

November 8, 2019

Carson City, NV - Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing a Trump Administration proposal that would significantly hinder the ability of asylum-seekers to access work permits. Currently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has 30 days to review asylum-seekers' work permit applications following their submission. However, under the proposed rule, USCIS would completely eliminate that timeframe, forcing asylum-seekers to potentially wait indefinitely to find out if they will be authorized to work. The Trump Administration's proposal would directly harm Nevada's communities and ignores the vital economic contributions of immigrants throughout the country.

 "Those seeking asylum in Nevada and around the country are already faced with many challenges and obstacles," said AG Ford. "Delaying decisions on their work permits only makes their adjustment to life in the United States that much more difficult. Here in Nevada, we welcome new members of our community, especially those in dire need of assistance."

 Under the current system, asylum-seekers can apply for a work permit or Employment Authorization Document if their asylum application has been pending for 150 days. Once they file their application for employment authorization, USCIS must act on it within 30 days. Currently, 96 percent of work permit applications are handled within the regulatory timeframe. Nevertheless, USCIS is seeking to create further delays in the existing system. In fact, the proposed rule would result in a 21 percent drop in timely adjudications, which according to USCIS' own estimates would result in up to nearly $775 million in lost compensation annually. Forcing asylum-seekers to wait even longer than they currently do before being able to legally work will negatively affect Nevada's economy. Immigrant households contribute billions of dollars in state and local taxes every year and play an integral role in ensuring the successes of Nevada's economy.

 The proposed rule also threatens asylum-seekers and their families by making them more likely to seek work through exploitative employers in the underground economy. Moreover, asylum-seekers without a stable income source are less likely to be able to hire an attorney, which can disrupt their ability to successfully establish a legitimate asylum claim.

 In addition to Nevada, attorneys general from the following states are also included in today's comment letter: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

 A copy of the comment letter is available here.