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Attorney General James Fights Against New Trump Administration Restrictions on Employment Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Coalition of States, Cities, and Counties Argue DHS Rules Would Limit Job Opportunities for Asylum Seekers, Irreparably Harm State Economies

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James co-led 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, Attorney General James and the coalition urge the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to uphold the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“The Trump Administration is once again creating arbitrary and unlawful hurdles for immigrants trying to build a life for themselves here in America,” said Attorney General James. “By making it more difficult for immigrants to start to work, the president is not only hurting asylum seekers and their families, but economically disadvantaging states across the country. These policies are morally and economically dangerous, and we will not allow them to stand.”

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. In the amicus brief — led by Attorney General James and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine — the coalition highlights the substantial burdens these rules will pose on both states and asylum-seekers.

The coalition argues that by prohibiting asylum seekers from working for extended periods, or at all, the new rules will 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 lead to increased health and welfare costs shouldered by the states. These costs will be disproportionately felt by the states filing the amicus brief. Collectively, the coalition states are home to more than 26 million immigrants, and over 65 percent of the individuals granted asylum in the United States.

Joining Attorneys General James and Racine in filing this 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.

This matter was handled by Assistant Solicitor General Philip Levitz, Deputy Solicitor General Anisha S. Dasgupta, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood.