Skip to main content

AG Nessel Joins Coalition Urging Homeland Security to Take Immediate Action to Ensure New Arrivals Can Work

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, in calling for immediate action from the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant work authorization permits for immigrants allowed admission into the United States while their employment eligibility applications are being processed.   

While many new arrivals are eligible for work authorization, and eager to find employment, long processing delays have left many newcomers unable to support themselves and their families. This has also placed an increasing and unsustainable burden on states that offer support services to ensure these new arrivals do not go without food, shelter, education, and medical care.  

In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, AG Campbell and the coalition request “immediate action to ensure work authorization for new arrivals to help meet our workforce needs, conserve safety net resources for the most vulnerable in our states, and provide our newcomers the opportunity to contribute to the country in which they have sought refuge.” 

“Immigrants play a vital role in Michigan’s economy, as well as in other states across the country,” Nessel said. “When those who come to our shores are prohibited from employment due only to the slow pace of bureaucracy in processing work permits, the delays bring hardships for the prospective workers, their families, and their states’ support infrastructure. I stand with my colleagues in asking the Department of Homeland Security to revise the work authorization process so that new arrivals eligible to work can do so on a reasonable timeline.” 

The official term for recent immigrants admitted into the country while their applications for employment eligibility are being processed is a ‘parolee’, and federal language refers to their tentative admission as being ‘paroled’ into the country. These terms are used entirely irrespective of the more commonplace understanding of criminal parole and parolees released from incarceration.

The coalition states that while a significant portion of migrants have been paroled into the country and are therefore immediately eligible for work permits, processing delays have left many waiting for ten months or more for authorization. Wait times are particularly long for those who require a fee waiver, as they cannot submit their applications online. Of those immigrants who have managed to secure employment authorization, many have lost their jobs due to the expiration of their work permits while renewal applications are pending. 

Specifically, the attorneys general are urging DHS to: 

  • Allow parolees who have applied for work authorization to work while those applications are pending.
  • Address inconsistent lengths of parole and streamline renewal.
  • Automatically renew work authorization permits whenever someone’s parole or other immigration status is renewed.
  • Make work authorization applications with a fee waiver available online to streamline and expedite processes. 

The letter was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.


Media Contact: