Lawmakers call on DHS to extend migrant work permits during COVID-19 crisis

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Employment authorization documents incude DACA, TPS

In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) supporters march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to protest shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that DACA will be suspended with a six-month delay in Phoenix. The 2020 election campaigns are heating up as the Supreme Court prepares to decide the future of DACA, which President Donald Trump wants to end. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Democratic lawmakers are urging the Department of Homeland Security to extend work permits for migrants whose documents are about to expire.

Led by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, more than 100 House Democrats sent a letter DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Senior Official Ken Cuccinelli calling for the automatic extension of employment authorization for all immigrants — including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients — “to protect public health and prevent work authorizations from expiring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Extending employment authorization documents (EADs), not only benefits immigrants but “our communities” and helps support the nation’s economic recovery, the Hispanic Caucus said in a news release issued Monday.

“Responding to COVID-19 requires a nationwide response, and the widespread job losses and vital federal, state, and local measures enacted to combat COVID-19 erected significant barriers for current EAD holders, especially DACA recipients, seeking to renew,” the members wrote. “At least 270 million people in 33 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are under ‘stay at home’ orders, meaning that immigrants cannot leave their homes to collect supporting documents, print and prepare, and mail their applications.”

The letter also praised U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for partially or entirely closing its offices and instituting telework for numerous procedures, but notes that the COVID-19 related delays will undoubtedly worsen already existing adjudication backlogs, increasing the likelihood that applicants, including DACA recipients, will face work permit expiration before approval.

The lawmakers requested a response within 15 days.

To read the full text of the letters, click here.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.

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