Coalition of States, Cities, and Counties Argue DHS Rules Would Limit Job Opportunities and Safety for Asylum Seekers, Irreparably Harm State and Local Economies and Values
Oakland, CA—Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker today joined a coalition of 20 state attorneys general and 10 major cities and counties from around the nation in challenging the Trump Administration’s efforts to limit access to employment authorization for asylum seekers. Under two new rules, individuals seeking asylum in the United States would be indefinitely delayed and barred in some cases from obtaining authorization to work.
In an amicus brief — filed in support of the plaintiffs in Casa de Maryland, Inc, et al. v. Wolf — the coalition urges the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to uphold the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction.
“Oakland and our coalition partners support and will fiercely defend the lawful and equitable treatment of all immigrants,” said City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “We are a city of Americans who come from everywhere, whose rich and diverse histories make our city beautiful and strong. And we will not sit idly by while the federal government makes cruel and unlawful rules that put immigrants at greater risk of harassment, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse.”
The first new Trump Administration rule will require asylum seekers to wait a year before applying for employment authorization, and bar many from obtaining authorization at all. The second rule will eliminate the longstanding requirement that employment authorization applications be processed within 30 days, thus allowing such applications to sit untouched indefinitely. The new rules will harm the coalition cities, counties, and states, and harm the public health, safety, and wellbeing of their immigrant residents and communities.
In the amicus brief — led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine — the coalition highlights the substantial burdens these rules will place on states, local governments, and asylum-seekers. The coalition argues that by prohibiting asylum seekers from legally working for extended periods, or at all, the new rules will lead to mistreatment of immigrant workers as they are forced out of legal work; eliminate vital essential workers from fields such as health care and agriculture; and significantly lower the tax revenue that states and localities receive as a result of asylum seekers’ economic activity. Moreover, the inability of asylum seekers to access employer-sponsored health care will harm every immigrant worker suddenly unable to access care in the middle of a global pandemic, and will lead to increased health and welfare costs shouldered by governments. These costs will be disproportionately felt by the cities, counties, and states filing the amicus brief. Collectively, the coalition states alone are home to more than 26 million immigrants, and over 65 percent of the individuals granted asylum in the United States.
Joining City Attorney Parker and Attorneys General James and Racine in filing this amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington; as well as the cities of Albuquerque, NM Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, New York, NY, Oakland, CA, and Seattle, WA; and both Cook County in Illinois and Howard County in Maryland.