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This article was originally published on December 23, 2020.

The Tahirih Justice Center filed a lawsuit challenging two Department of Homeland Security rules that will deny people seeking asylum access to a work permit. Finalized in June 2020, the provisions include a significant delay in the time it takes for people seeking asylum to qualify for a work permit— lengthening the wait to apply from 150 to 365 days. Survivors fleeing severe violence and persecution will also be denied a work permit if they do not apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Tahirih is joined as organizational plaintiffs in this lawsuit by AsylumWorks and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, and is represented in the action by lawyers from the National Immigrant Justice Center, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, and other organizations.

“These rules are another piece in the chaotic patchwork of anti-immigrant policies enacted during the waning months of this administration that strip away the very right to seek safety to which asylum seekers are entitled under U.S. and international law,” said Richard Caldarone, Tahirih Litigation Counsel. “Instead of allowing those fleeing violence and persecution to live their lives while they pursue relief in the United States, the government has deliberately chosen to condemn survivors and other asylum seekers to lengthy periods of homelessness, food insecurity, and unnecessary poverty. There are many understandable reasons why survivors of violence may wait more than a year to apply for asylum – including the need to heal from trauma or the need to avoid reliving painful memories. Our immigration system must uphold the right for survivors to work while their cases continue, rather than slamming the door shut to safety.”

 

Richard Caldarone is available for comment on this topic. Please contact rachelp@tahirih.org to arrange an interview.