NY Leaders Consider Changes to Work Permits as Migrant Crisis Grows

BROOKLYN COLLEGE–As New York buckles under the mounting pressures of a worsening migrant crisis, some of the state’s politicians are advocating for a change in the law that would expedite the process for asylum seekers applying for work permits. Such a shift would be a virtually unprecedented alteration to a power typically reserved for the federal government, but some say it is a necessary response to the growing challenges presented.

Corresponding with deteriorating economic conditions in Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, New York City has seen an influx of over 100,000 migrants since the spring of 2022. The surge, combined with the city’s legal obligation to house anyone who requests shelter, has led to NYC reeling from a record-high homeless shelter population and an estimated $12 billion price tag to address the crisis over the next three years.

According to state leaders, the burden is partly because of slow federal response times and undue barriers to the process. Even after someone applies for asylum, which usually takes three to four years to be fully reviewed, they cannot apply for temporary employment authorization for another 150 days, forcing them to remain in temporary housing without the prospect of securing a legitimate job. Some officials criticized the federal government for their inaction towards the crisis, with even NYC Mayor Eric Adams urging “the state and federal government to step up” in a recent news conference, according to The New York Times.