NYC migrant crisis: Push to speed up work authorization for new arrivals

It's been over a year since migrants first began arriving in New York City from the southern border, but there hasn't been any headway when it comes to speeding up the process for them to obtain work permits.

Now, Congressman Dan Goldman, along with a group of Congressional leaders, is urging the Biden administration to take action and expedite the process for migrants to obtain work authorization.

The city has seen over 90,000 asylum seekers pass through since last spring, constituting more than half of the city's total shelter population. 

However, the road to obtaining work papers is riddled with challenges.


Adams: NYC will give some migrants 60 days notice to leave shelter system

New York City Mayor Eric Adams says the city will start giving adult asylum seekers in the city’s shelter system 60 days notice to find somewhere else to live.

The first step for migrants seeking work in the city is filing for asylum. Harold Solis, Co-Legal Director of Make the Road New York, explains that this process can be confusing, and there is a shortage of legal experts available to provide assistance. To make matters worse, the forms required for filing asylum are all in English, leaving many migrants at a loss unless they have someone to guide them through the process.

"Many of these individuals are being put into the same immigrant court system that for a while now has had a backlog," said Solis. 

Even after filing for asylum, migrants face a waiting period of at least 180 days before they can receive authorization to work.


NYC migrant crisis: Free bus service for asylum seekers no longer guaranteed

Instead, recent migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal are now given flyers with a map, directing them to take a 15-minute walk to the Roosevelt Hotel.

"That's just simply too long for the city to sustain the financial burden of supporting them, housing them, feeding them, vaccinating them and finding enough space for all of them," Goldman said. 

Rep. Goldman and others are working on a bipartisan long-term solution to address the ongoing crisis. However, they acknowledge that numerous roadblocks exist in the legislative process. In the interim, they call on the Biden administration to take executive action to alleviate the situation.

One potential solution proposed by Goldman is expanding the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program to include more countries. Currently, only immigrants from specific countries are eligible for legal work status under this program.

"That's why we are urging the administration to either designate or re-designate temporary protected status for some of the northern triangle countries where the vast majority of the migrants are coming from," Goldman said.

The Mayor's office estimates that the crisis will cost the city $4.5B.