Thousands of asylum seekers can’t work legally after judge declines to order work authorization extension | #specialneeds | #kids

Thousands of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States can no longer work legally, their advocates say, because U.S. officials let their employment authorizations expire and failed to act before the government’s deadline for renewals. But a federal judge in San Francisco has refused to order a nationwide extension of the deadline.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not act intentionally or in bad faith in delaying approvals of asylum-seekers’ applications for two-year extensions of their work permits, and the delays do not appear to be causing severe hardships, U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney said Wednesday in denying an injunction against the agency. She also said a federal law directing USCIS to take no longer than 180 days to review a renewal application was only advisory, not mandatory.

The ruling “leaves so many people without jobs they need to support themselves and their families,” said attorney Emma Winger of the American Immigration Council, which represents migrants in the lawsuit.

“We hope that the Biden administration will recognize the crisis their delays have created for asylum seekers — many of whom are essential workers — who risk losing their livelihoods and ability to support their families in the middle of the ongoing pandemic,” said Zachary Manfredi, a lawyer for the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, another group in the case.

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