A group of asylum-seekers arrived in the country last week. FilledA LawsuitU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, claiming the USCIS had illegally and unreasonably delayed their renewals of work permits. Five foreign nationals were included, including a doctor and truck driver as well as a McDonald’s manger. AllergyIn some cases, the USCIS takes up to 10 weeks to issue work authorizations for people who have pending asylum requests.
The lawsuit states that USCIS and Department of Homeland Security have “repeatedly stated” they will process renewals of Employment Authorization Documents for Asylum Seekers in no more than 180 days.
In recent years, USCIS has been criticized for its inability to process such paperwork on time. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project has reported many members waiting more than 10 months to have their work permits renewed by USCIS. The plaintiffs in last week’s lawsuit have been authorized to work before—they’re simply waitingOn reauthorization
Heghine Muradayan, a non-citizen refugee, was denied residency at two hospitals. She also lost her health insurance because of delays in USCIS processing. As of filing the lawsuit, her application to renew her EAD had been pending for 218 day. According to the lawsuit, “Doctor Muradyan treated COVID-19 patients under tents while her hospital reached 150% capacity. She is unable to serve her patients now despite the immense need.” Muradyan will lose her license to practice medicine in other states if she is not allowed to work for more than three months. She will have to retake a year of residency.
Tony N., an East African asylum seeker was also about to launch his trucking company when his EAD expired. He lost both his driving license and his job due to USCIS delays. According to the suit, Tony N. was a truck driver who transported personal protective equipment across the nation. The trucking industry needs drivers desperately.
A pregnant mother with three children, a special-needs child behavioral health specialist, and an Apple employee are some of the other plaintiffs. Some have already lost driver’s licenses, health insurance and jobs. According to the lawsuit, many have had to drain their savings to provide for their families.
This lawsuit isn’t the first. Yet another lawsuit Filled last week alleges that USCIS is failing to adequately process work authorizations for two other classes of immigrants—those with pending green card applications and those in the E-2 category, which is an investor visa. Yet another suit was brought against USCIS. SubmittedLast week’s issue was the long processing of L-2 and H-4 spousal visa authorizations.
The fact that these lawsuits are absurd is what makes them so ridiculous. Many of the plaintiffs could very easily alleviate America’s labor shortage. The United States currently has 10.4 million open jobs. American workers have chosen to not fill these positions for a variety of reasons. Though it’s just one maddening example, in the midst of a pandemic, Muradyan—a trained and experienced doctor—is being forced to sue in order to serve sick people. Muradyan and many others could have access to employment if USCIS simply processed EAD renewal applications in the appropriate timeline.
The specific lawsuits of last week are regrettable, but they do point to larger issues within the American immigration system. You can read more at ReasonEric Boehm reportedIn September, the “major driver of the increasing caseloads in the immigration system” was “One of the main drivers.” This includes “An estimated backlog exceeding 7,000,000Application and Petition” comes down to “the government’s, newly beefed up immigration bureaucracy.”
The Application for Employment Authorization—the document at the heart of these plaintiffs’ woes and USCIS’s processing issues—”was expanded from one page and 18 questions to seven pages and 61 questions,” Writes Boehm. Many immigration restrictionists insist that potential migrants must come to the United States “the legal route.” However, it is increasingly difficult for them to do so. People who have been legally employed as immigrants are now finding it difficult to work.
Unfortunately, the plaintiffs’ struggle is a reminder that the byzantine legal immigration system doesn’t just harm the migrants tangled in red tape—it also harms the native-born Americans who could benefit from their skills and services in tough times.