More than 100 Business Organizations Sign Onto Council Letter Urging Congress to Reduce the Waiting Period for Asylum Seekers to Obtain Work Permits

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For Immediate Release 

WASHINGTON, Nov16, 2023Today, the American Immigration Council joins over 100 business organizations, including chambers of commerce and trade associations throughout the country, to call on Congress to remove the current barrier to getting asylum seekers work permits quickly. The letter calls for the waiting period to be reduced from the current 180 mandatory days to 30 days and additional funding for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for faster work permit processing. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 9.6 million job openings, with an estimated 6.5 million people currently looking for work. Businesses are struggling with unprecedented worker shortages, especially in industries such as durable goods manufacturing, transportation, accommodation and food, wholesale and retail, and leisure and hospitality.  

This letter was organized in partnership with the Refugee Advocacy Lab and was released alongside growing movement across the country led by groups including the Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Refugees International calling for Congressional solutions to allow asylum seekers to get to work more quickly  

The following is a statement from Rich André, Director of State and Local Initiatives at the American Immigration Council:  

Across the country, there are too many open jobs without enough workers to fill them. There is a solution in plain sight: let asylum seekers work quickly. The current barrier is statutory, and it requires Congress to act. There are several proposals currently introduced in Congress that reduce the waiting period for asylum seekers to obtain work permits from 180 days to 30 and fund work permit processing so USCIS can increase its capacity to quickly process employees’ work permit renewals in the future. We urge Members of Congress to pass legislation that would make these crucial and critical changes that will bolster the workforce, allow businesses to grow, and further strengthen our economy.  

The following is a statement from Kate Brick, Director of the Refugee Advocacy Lab at Refugees International 

“As local economies face historic labor shortages, there is no reason why people seeking asylum must wait six monthsand often longer—to access the workforceIt’s a loss for people who want to provide for their families, for their communities, and for the businesses across the country who need their talent. There are clear, straightforward solutions on the table, and we cannot afford for Congress to waste any more time in getting them across the finish line so people can get to work.” 

The following is a statement from Misty Chally, Executive Director of the Critical Labor Coalition: 

“The workplace looks very different than it did pre-pandemic and it’s putting an extra strain on business owners in service-related industries. Restaurants, hotels and convenience stores are just a few of the industries struggling to fill positions which require employees to work in person. Lowering waiting periods for asylum seekers to receive work permits will help fill those positions, lower the demand for state and federal assistance and strengthen our economy. Employers need workers and asylum seekers want to work – this shouldn’t be a political issue.” 

Letter signatories include:  

American Arab Chamber of Commerce  

American Hotel and Lodging Association 

Asian American Chamber of Commerce Pittsburgh  

Austin Chamber of Commerce  

Bartell Georgalas & Juarez LPA Co. 

Berry, Appleman & Leiden 

Biddeford & Saco Chamber of Commerce 

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance 

Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut 

Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce 

Coalition of Franchisee Associations 

Critical Labor Coalition 

Dallas Regional Chamber 

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce 

Detroit Regional Chamber 

Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services 

Euclid Chamber of Commerce 

Fifth Group Restaurants 

Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce 

Flint & Genesee Chamber 

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce 

Greater Houston LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce 

Greater Houston Partnership 

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce 

Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce 

Greater Phoenix Chamber 

Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce 

Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce 

Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA 

Holderbaum’s Painting Inc. 

Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce 

Hudson County Chamber of Commerce 

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce 

Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce 

Latin American Chamber of Commerce Charlotte 

Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce 

Longview TX Chamber of Commerce 

Maine Society of Certified Public Accountants 

Maine State Chamber of Commerce  

Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce 

Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce 

Minneapolis Regional Chamber 

National Restaurant Association 

National Retail Federation 

New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition 

New Mexico Chamber of Commerce 

Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) 

Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association 

Ohio Lawn Care Association 

Ohio Life Sciences Association 

Ohio Turfgrass Foundation 

Opelika Chamber of Commerce 

Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce 

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce 

Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce 

Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association 

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce  

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce 

Sandusky County Share and Care 

State Business Executives 

Texas Association of Business 

Texas Business Leadership Council 

Texas International Produce Association 

The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

The Gallegos Corporation 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce  

Vail Valley Partnership 

Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber 

The American Immigration Council has a range of research and other resources, including legal and policy experts available to speak on the subject. 

For more information, contact: 

Brianna Dimas at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7557.    

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.   



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