Crist, Demings Call for USCIS to Set Timeline for Clearing Employment Authorization Backlog

Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D–St. Petersburg) and Val Demings (D-FL) released the following joint statement calling on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to set a timeline to clear the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) backlog that has impacted the ability of asylum seekers to find and keep jobs in the United States. This comes after USCIS Director Jaddou’s reply to a letter sent in November asking USCIS to address the backlog.

In the letter, Reps. Crist, Demings, and eight of their Florida Democratic colleagues requested USCIS increase the automatic extension of  EADs from 180 to 360 days. This extension would provide asylum seekers that already have lawful work authorization the ability to continue working while USCIS processes their renewal request. Due to the backlog, and through no fault of their own, many asylum seekers are losing their jobs and use of their critical identifying documents.

In response, Director Jaddou affirmed USCIS’ ongoing efforts to address backlogs, including regularly evaluating EAD processing times and the need to reallocate resources. USCIS is also working to adjust public rulemaking policies, increase hiring, authorize processor overtime, and expand online filing options to improve and expedite the process.

“I’m heartened by Director Jaddou’s timely response and ongoing efforts to address the backlogs that continue to burden asylum seekers,” said Rep. Crist. “Jobs provide essential stability for asylum seekers waiting for a decision in their case. For the families in Florida that fled persecution and violence, the thought that they would lose their jobs despite meeting their end of the bargain is heartbreaking. I cannot imagine the anxiety and uncertainty they must face. That’s why I am joining with my Florida colleague, Congresswoman Val Demings, in calling on USCIS to set a timeline to reduce and eliminate this backlog. Give us a goal we can work together on, so that no other Floridian has to lose their livelihood.”

"A bedrock American value is that if you play by the rules and work hard, you can support your family and contribute to your community,” said Rep. Demings. “Those values extend to lawful asylum seekers who have fled violence and persecution. I appreciate Director Jaddou's commitment to addressing the backlog, and call on her to work with us in Congress to get it done without further delay. While the backlog did not begin on her watch, we owe it to these families and their employers to ensure that the system is equitable and does not harm those that follow the law."

A PDF of the response can be found here. A PDF of the letter can be found here, with text appearing below:

The Honorable Ur Mendoza Jaddou
Director
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington D.C. 20001

Dear Director Jaddou,

We write to request U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) consider important changes that would help asylum seekers with existing Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) continue working in the United States. Specifically, we ask USCIS increase the automatic extension of Employment Authorization Documents under 8 CFR 274a.13(d) from 180 to 360 days. This extension would provide asylum seekers that have lawful work authorization the ability to maintain their employment and provide USCIS enough time to adjudicate the applicant’s EAD renewal application. Additionally, we request that USCIS take all meaningful steps to increase its capacity to process EAD reauthorizations in a more timely manner. The delays experienced by the applicants place a significant amount of pressure on them and their employers.

A significant number of asylum seekers—many of whom are immigrants from Venezuela and Haiti, fleeing political persecution and intense socioeconomic instability—live and work in the United States under EAD’s while they wait for their asylum case to be fully adjudicated. Unfortunately, many of their EAD’s expire before USCIS can process their renewal application, even after the automatic 180-day extension. Our offices have numerous cases of individuals who have applied for their renewals in a timely manner but have already lost or will lose their jobs because their renewal has not been processed by USCIS. Without an EAD, asylum seekers can neither work nor maintain important identification documents.

We respectfully request that USCIS increase the automatic extension of existing EAD’s from 180 to 360 days and take all meaningful steps to increase its capacity to process EAD reauthorizations in a more timely manner. The individuals applying for EAD reauthorizations are in this country legally and are simply trying to support themselves and their families while their asylum case is adjudicated.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Crist y Demings piden a USCIS que se establezca un itinerario para eliminar la acumulación de autorizaciones de empleo

Washington, DC - Los representantes de EE. UU. Charlie Crist (D – St. Petersburg) y Val Demings (D-FL) emitieron la siguiente declaración conjunta pidiendo al Servicio de Aduanas e Inmigración de EE. UU. (USCIS) que se establezca un itinerario para eliminar el Documento de autorización de empleo (EAD), atrasos que ha afectado la capacidad de los solicitantes de asilo para encontrar y mantener trabajos en los Estados Unidos. Esto se produce después de la respuesta del director de USCIS, Jaddou, a una carta enviada en noviembre pidiendo a USCIS que solucione el retraso.

En la carta, los representantes Crist, Demings y ocho de sus colegas demócratas de Florida solicitaron al USCIS que aumentara la extensión automática de los EAD de 180 a 360 días. Esta extensión proporcionaría a los solicitantes de asilo que ya tienen una autorización de trabajo legal la capacidad de continuar trabajando mientras USCIS procesa su solicitud de renovación. Debido a la acumulación de trabajo, y sin tener la culpa, muchos solicitantes de asilo están perdiendo sus trabajos y el uso de sus documentos de identificación fundamentales.

En respuesta, el Director Jaddou afirmó los esfuerzos continuos de USCIS para abordar los retrasos, incluida la evaluación periódica de los tiempos de procesamiento de EAD y la necesidad de reasignar recursos. USCIS también está trabajando para ajustar las políticas públicas de reglamentación, aumentar la contratación, autorizar el tiempo extra del procesador y ampliar las opciones de presentación en línea para mejorar y acelerar el proceso.

“Me alienta la respuesta oportuna del Director Jaddou y los esfuerzos continuos para abordar los atrasos que continúan siendo una carga para los solicitantes de asilo”, dijo el Representante Crist. “Los trabajos brindan una estabilidad esencial para los solicitantes de asilo que esperan una decisión en su caso. Para las familias de Florida que huyeron de la persecución y la violencia, la idea de que perderían sus trabajos a pesar de cumplir con su parte del trato es desgarradora. No puedo imaginar la ansiedad y la incertidumbre que deben enfrentar. Es por eso que me uno a mi colega de Florida, la congresista Val Demings, para pedirle al USCIS que establezca un itinerario para reducir y eliminar este atraso. Danos una meta en la que podamos trabajar juntos, para que ningún otro floridiano tenga que perder su sustento ”.

“Un valor fundamental de los Estados Unidos es que si juega por las reglas y trabaja duro, puede apoyar a su familia y contribuir a su comunidad,” dijo el representante Demings. “Esos valores se extienden a los solicitantes de asilo legales que han huido de la violencia y la persecución. Agradezco el compromiso del Director Jaddou de abordar el atraso, y le pido que trabaje con nosotros en el Congreso para hacerlo sin más demora. Aunque el atraso no comenzó debajo su supervisión, les debemos a estas familias y a sus empleadores garantizar que el sistema sea equitativo y no perjudique a quienes siguen la ley.”

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