Expediting work authorization for migrants won’t be quick. And in this political climate, it won’t be easy.
There’s actually only so much that President Joe Biden can change, making the pressure from Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams and others limited in its ability to lead to change.
So how could work eligibility be expanded?
Consider the two primary options: Asylum and temporary protected status.
Few migrants have applied for asylum. (Only 3,001 had done so with the aid of the city’s help center as of last week, according to Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom.)
It’s Congress, not Biden, that has the power to shorten the current six-month wait between applying for asylum and receiving work documents.
It’s a non-starter with a GOP-led House that wants border security.
“Your actions at the state level have only further incentivized illegal immigration,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and three other Republicans recently wrote to Hochul.
And if the fact that zero House Democrats attended Adams’ rally for work permits is any indication, it’s not a top priority for that party nationally either.
But what Biden can do without Congress is designate and re-designate temporary protected status, or TPS, to countries with ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, epidemics and similar temporary conditions.
Data provided by City Hall shows that 41 percent of migrants are from Venezuela, 18 percent are from Ecuador and 13 percent are from Colombia.
Hochul and others have specifically called for TPS to be expanded for Venezuelans.
Organized labor leaders used this past Labor Day to urge that Biden use TPS to get job openings filled in industries like health care and construction.
“Bidenomics is about growing our economy from the middle out and the bottom up,” said SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, calling Biden’s obstacles “the terribly polarized politics and the demonization of immigrants.”
There would still be a wait after applying, albeit a shorter one than in the asylum process.
For those migrants eligible to apply under current rules, help is needed with the paperwork.
Hochul said the White House committed to helping New York identify the thousands in the state who can apply for work authorization but have yet to do so.
The current reality is that many migrants are working off the books.
“But if they have work authorization, that opens up a universe of workforce training, of more professional opportunities,” City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said recently, adding such work “could be real net contributors to an economy, payroll, taxes.”
WHERE’S KATHY? Greeting students on the first day of school in Westchester, then attending the annual meeting of the state Financial Control Board in Manhattan.
WHERE’S ERIC? Making a public safety announcement with the MTA, then speaking before the state Financial Control Board and later hosting a pre-High Holidays roundtable with his Jewish Advisory Council.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I went through more of an emotional roller coaster in these last couple of weeks than I did going in and out of prison,” — Jeremy Rivera, a New York cannabis dispensary licensee who can’t open because of a lawsuit, the latest trouble for the industry.