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Trumps Plan to Prevent Asylum Seekers from Working Undermines the Right to Seek Asylum

At The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm, our team of lawyers is committed to defending the rights of immigrants who have fled persecution and hardship in their home countries to come to the United States in search of a better life. That is why the new proposal from the Trump administration to prevent asylum seekers from working has our legal team concerned.

The Washington Post reports that the Department of Homeland Security proposed a rule that will extend the amount of time asylum seekers have to wait before they can apply for work authorization and disqualify many asylum petitioners from work authorization.

As experienced immigration attorneys, we know that the right of asylum seekers to work is a crucial aspect of humanitarian protection that was won through debate and litigation in the 70s and 80s. If we take a brief look at the history of this time period, it’s easy to see why this proposal would be a devastating blow to immigrants’ rights.

During the Duvalier dictatorship in the mid-1970s, fleeing Haitians started seeking asylum in the United States. When Haitian asylum seekers were summarily denied, public interest lawyers would assist with their appeals to the federal courts. The lawyers also advocated that the Haitians be allowed to work while they appealed their cases. While immigration authorities initially refused to grant Haitians work authorizations, two lawsuits, Marie Pierre et. al. v. United States of America and National Council of Churches v. Egan, would eventually force them to start approving these types of cases.

While immigration authorities argued that granting work authorization to Haitian asylum seekers would disenfranchise unemployed Americans, lawyers representing Haitians rebutted that denying authorization would create a huge unauthorized workforce that could lead to poor work conditions and lower wages across the board.

The lawyers representing Haitians also used President Lyndon B. Johnson’s statement at the United Nations Convention on the status of refugees in 1968 to remind courts about the importance of allowing immigrants to legally work:

“Through a number of other specific guarantees, refugees are to be accorded rights which — taken together — would enable them to cease being refugees, and instead become self-supporting members of free societies, living under conditions of dignity and self-respect.”

One of the guarantees President Johnson was referencing is the right to work. Courts would eventually order immigration authorities to provide work authorization to Haitians who arrived in the United States before 1980. Congress would also pass the 1980 Refugee Act, which made the United States compliant with the provisions of the U.N. Refugee Convention.

Despite protections for asylum seekers, immigration authorities continued to violate work authorization rules throughout the 1980s by coming up with various reasons to deny asylum seekers. In Diaz v. INS, immigration authorities were specifically enjoined by a California Judge from considering the manner of entry when making decisions regarding work authorization. This is exactly what the Trump administration proposal would do if enacted. The California Judge also enjoined immigration authorities from denying work authorization because an asylum seeker isn’t responsible for the economic support of others. According to the judge in the case, “Whether or not there exists a family to care for, the individual refugee still needs to eat.”

Speak to a Compassionate Immigration Lawyer Today

Our legal team understands that the Trump Administration’s proposal will make it even harder than it already is for alyssum seekers to find employment legally. This means asylum seekers will struggle to stay afloat financially as they pursue their claims. That is why we are here to provide stellar legal representation for asylum seekers throughout the Bay Area. If you have questions about petitioning for asylum, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated legal professionals to discuss your situation.

Call (650) 931-2509 to request your initial consultation.