In a newly proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reaches a new level of cruelty. DHS proposes to strip work authorization for 95% of individuals who have final orders of removal but who have been released from immigrant detention on supervision. The people who would be impacted include asylum seekers, stateless individuals, and individuals seeking appellate review of their cases. These individuals often wait for years to reach a decision on their claims or for DHS to arrange for their removal.
Work authorization is no luxury; it is a lifeline. Every day, work permits allow migrants and asylum seekers to feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families while they navigate in a deeply backlogged and precarious immigration legal system.
Families like that of Maurice,* an NIJC client, will be the ones who suffer most if the proposed rule is implemented. Maurice came to the U.S. to seek asylum with his young daughter. DHS reinstated his prior removal order but released him from custody with his daughter on an order of supervision. Following his release, he had to wait more than one year to be scheduled for a reasonable fear interview, the first step in the asylum process. During this time, Maurice was able to seek employment authorization based on his release on an order of supervision, which was critical to his ability to support his family. The proposed rule would create conditions for homelessness, labor exploitation, and prosecution just because people will have no means to sustain themselves. The rule also would place pressure on people like Maurice to return to their country of persecution before the U.S. government reaches a decision on their asylum claim. There is no justification for inflicting this cruelty.
Azadeh Erfani is a senior policy analyst for NIJC.
*Pseudonym used to protect identity and confidentiality