Since more than 100,000 Immigrants arrive in New York City After crossing the border from Mexico over the past year, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul implored President Joe Biden to do one thing, above all else, alleviate the crisis:

“Let them work,” both Democrats have said repeatedly in speeches and interviews.

Party leaders in other Biden cities and states have hammered home the same message over the last month, saying the government must make it easier for immigrants to quickly obtain work permits that would allow them to pay for food and housing.

But expediting the issuance of work permits will not be easy, either legally or bureaucratically, experts say. Politically, this may not be possible.

Congress needs to act to shorten the mandatory six-month waiting period before asylum seekers can apply for a work permit. Some Democratic leaders have said the Biden administration may take steps that don’t require congressional approval. But neither action seems likely.Biden has faced attacks from Republicans who say he is too soft on immigration and his administration has pointed to Congress’ inability to reach a deal About comprehensive change Citing the U.S. Immigration System as a Reason Other steps it has taken.

The Department of Homeland Security has sent more than 1 million text messages urging people eligible to apply for work permits but has shown no willingness to speed up the process. The application backlog means the wait for a work permit is almost always longer than six months.

As frustration mounts, Hochul said her office is considering whether the state could offer work permits, although such a move would almost certainly trigger a legal challenge. The White House dismissed the idea.

Immigrants are also frustrated. Gilberto Pozo Ortiz, a 45-year-old Cuban, has been living on taxpayer dime in a hotel in upstate New York for the past three months. He said that while social workers guided him through the complex asylum application system, his work permit had not yet arrived.

“I don’t want to be dependent on anyone,” Ortiz said. “I want to work.”

13,000 immigrants settled in Chicago last year, Mayor Brandon Johnson and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Secretary of Homeland Security writes Alejandro Mayorkas asked the asylum seeker for parole, which they said would allow him to bypass the wait for a work permit.

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey declares a state of emergency due to influx of migrants mayorkas wrote Work permits represent “an opportunity to meet employer needs, support our economy and reduce newcomer dependency.”and 19 Democrats state attorney general Mayorkas wrote that work permits would take pressure off the government to provide social services.

Chicago City Councilman Andre Vasquez, chairman of the City Council’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Committee, said the federal government has done “little to nothing” to help cities.

Meanwhile, immigrants unable to obtain work permits have filled homeless shelters in several cities.

More than 60,000 immigrants currently rely on New York City for housing, and the city has rented hotel space, placed cots in recreation centers and set up tent shelters – all at government expense. The Adams administration estimates that housing and caring for immigrants could cost the city $12 billion over three years.

“This is a problem that will devastate New York City,” Adams said at a community event this month. “We’re not getting any support on this national crisis and we’re not getting any support.”

Immigration advocates objected to Adams’ apocalyptic terminology, saying he exaggerated the potential impact of newcomers on the city of nearly 8.8 million people.

Republicans have seized on the discord, putting Democrats on the defensive ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Muzaffar Chishti, a lawyer and senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, said calls for faster work authorizations have more to do with politics than practical solutions.

“They don’t want to tell voters there’s nothing we can do. No politician wants to say that. So they’ve become the new squeaky wheel, saying, ‘Give us a mandate to work,'” he said. “It’s a lot easier to say it than to get it. But you know, it’s a good soundtrack.”

One step that most people find helpful is providing legal assistance for immigrants to apply for asylum and work authorization, although this too has proven challenging.

Nationally, only about 16% of working-age immigrants are enrolled in U.S. Customs and Border Protection Online application They have applied for work permits, according to the White House. Since the launch of the CBP One app in January, nearly 200,000 asylum-seeking migrants have used the app to make appointments to enter the United States through land ports in Mexico as of the end of July.

Federal officials recently began sending email and text message notifications alerting non-citizens that they are eligible to apply. New York City officials have also begun surveying asylum seekers to determine whether they qualify.

Another option would be to expand the number of countries whose citizens are eligible for temporary protected status in the United States. This designation is most common in places where there is armed conflict or natural disaster.

Still, the White House may be reluctant to take steps that could be interpreted as incentivizing immigrants to come to the U.S.

More than 177,000 people were arrested in Mexico for illegal crossings in August, a nearly 80% increase from June, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss unreleased figures. Many people are being released into the United States to seek asylum in immigration courts, and 1,450 immigrants are allowed into the United States every day through CBP One.

Many people are drawn into the underground economy.

Elden Roja earns about $15 an hour from occasional landscaping and other odd jobs and lives with his wife and children, ages 15 and 6, and about 50 other people in the Chicago Police Department hall. When a Venezuelan colleague honked the horn with a car he had purchased, Roa laughed and said he would buy his own car soon.

Although the bureaucratic hurdles can be significant, many immigrants do make it through the process.

Jose Vacca, a Venezuelan, traveled with his two cousins ​​from Colombia, leaving their families behind and mostly walking. After arriving in Texas, he was given a free bus ticket to New York City.

The 22-year-old found a secret job there for $15 an hour. After he obtained a temporary work permit, his boss gave him an extra dollar an hour.

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