More than 100 top executives from a broad array of industries are calling on the Biden administration to help cities and states better handle the influx of migrants by increasing funding for social services and speeding up work permits.
In a letter to President Biden and congressional leaders, the leaders called for “educational, housing, security, and health care services to offset the costs that local and state governments are incurring,” backing New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who has been vocal in calling for more federal resources.
The business leaders also made an appeal to speed up processing so migrants can work legally.
“In addition, there is a compelling need for expedited processing of asylum applications and work permits for those who meet federal eligibility standards,” they wrote.
“Immigration policies and control of our country’s border are clearly a federal responsibility; state and local governments have no standing in this matter.”
The issue of work permits for asylum seekers and parolees is a matter of tension both outside and within the Biden administration.
Foreign nationals gain eligibility for work permits based on a number of factors, including how they entered the country and what immigration status they are requesting.
Asylum applicants by and large are subject to a 180-day waiting period before they can apply for work permits, but applicants who were paroled into the country — including through the Biden administration’s expanded legal pathways for entry — are not subject to the bar.
Administration officials have expressed frustration that many asylum seekers who entered with parole may be eligible to apply for work permits but remain unaware and needlessly waiting out the 180-day period.
And Department of Homeland Security officials have sped up the amount of time it takes to process work papers for asylum seekers, but because of limited resources, that effort has slowed processing for other categories of immigrants.
The administration has also been called upon to make unprecedented use of other executive tools such as Temporary Protected Status, but officials have been reluctant to be too aggressive, reportedly citing the potential to detonate lawsuits and further migration.
The executives noted that the economy is ready to absorb more workers, and private industry is ready to employ new arrivals.
“There are labor shortages in many U.S. industries, where employers are prepared to offer training and jobs to individuals who are authorized to work in the United States,” they wrote.
“The business community is also providing in-kind assistance and philanthropic support to organizations that are addressing the immediate needs of this largely destitute population.”
The executives also preempted the administration’s go-to answer for requests on immigration policy: that it’s up to Congress to reform outdated immigration laws.
“Bipartisan action by Congress and the Administration is ultimately the way to resolve immigration issues, but that will take time,” they wrote.
“In the interim, we urge you to take immediate action to better control the border and the process of asylum and provide relief to the cities and states that are bearing the burdens posed by the influx of asylum seekers.”