Immigration Advocates Pushing for Work Permits Amidst Recent Increase in Border Crossings

Beginning in  2022,  the U.S. started to roll back Covid-19 restrictions, there has been an increase in migrant crossing across the southwestern border. In the years 2022 and 2023, illegal immigration has been at record highs, to the point where the issue has become a major political talking point for Republicans critical of President Joe Biden’s current term in office. The criticism levied at Biden has mainly echoed sentiments that his immigration policies are too weak to reduce illegal immigration numbers at the border and that cities in the US do not have the resources to provide shelter and other assistance to the general growing number of migrants coming through, let alone those who are crossing illegitimately.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it is certainly true that migration across the southwestern border is at its historical highest. This is the result of the economic shock and violence that have displaced millions of South and Central Americans who are now seeking refuge in the United States. This rapid increase has put a strain on US Border Agencies’ ability to process everyone attempting to cross over, and as a result, long wait times and bureaucratic processing issues have encouraged more migrants to enter the U.S. illegally. Certain measures have been taken to address these problems, including the introduction of a new Asylum Program Fee that all petitioners filing temporary work visa and I-140 petitions are now required to pay. Hypothetically, this should provide  immigration agencies with the needed funds to process the multitude of refugees and asylum seekers more efficiently. But many feel that more needs to be done, especially regarding the large number of illegal immigrants presently in the country.
As of now, speculation over what Biden may do next includes rumors that he may expand work permits for illegal immigrants currently in the United States. Many immigration advocates are in favor of the same, and polling reports have even shown that a majority of voters in swing states support expanding work permits for undocumented immigrants, including long-term workers, farmworkers, Dreamers without DACA, and spouses of U.S. citizens. Supporters argue that the potential detention of hundreds of thousands of migrants from the US who are in the country illegally would not be a practical or logistical option. Furthermore, granting work permits to long-term immigrants living in the U.S. illegally would also ease growing pressure in U.S. cities who are seeing more migrants in higher numbers. Advocates are also in favor of expanding an existing program allowing undocumented spouses of US military service members to regularize their status to include all spouses of US citizens, as well as expanding the cancelation of removal. Currently, the program allows U.S. citizens to petition for undocumented relatives whose removal would cause citizens to suffer exceptional hardship.
Advocates are also arguing that there are further political points for Biden to consider in expanding these programs. By granting work permits to undocumented individuals, Republicans would potentially lose some of their talking points and rhetoric, as they would no longer know who is and isn’t supposed to be in the U.S. Furthermore, it’s being argued that by taking steps to solve family immigration nightmares, not only would Biden be rewarded by those voters but also by a majority of Americans who believe in immigration solutions that seek to aid and support instead of being punitive. Currently, the Republican Candidate for this election year, Donald Trump, has stated that he will continue to take a strict and hard-lined approach in dealing with the border process if he takes up the office of the President again. In consideration of this proposed approach, by not trying to strike any bipartisan favor now, President Biden would instead improve and secure his overall image by acting in opposite to what Trump is proposing.  He would hopefully also ease any future burdens that may befall undocumented immigrants should Trump win this year and once again impose harsh immigration policy. It will remain to be seen how Biden acts in the coming months. However, by expanding work permits as proposed and described above, our President will directly improve the lives of millions who have been a part of the American landscape for years. Expanding work authorization would theoretically benefit our overall economy, thus helping everyone who calls the United States “Home.”
The trusted Chugh, LLP immigration team will continue to monitor the changes and provide further updates as they become available. If you have any questions related to ongoing immigration updates and visa or Green Card options for yourself or family members, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm for a consultation today!
Migration Policy Institute
The Hill

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