Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers
The Department of Homeland Security is notoriously slow. Often times, asylum seekers have to wait for six months or more for a decision in their applications. What makes matters worse for these applicants, is that their employment authorization applications were frequently denied. These asylum seekers were unlawfully prevented from obtaining legal employment and providing support for themselves and their families, while waiting for the adjudication of their claims.
In December of 2011, a nationwide class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the many deserving asylum applicants, challenging the issues of the “asylum clock”. The “clock” is the system the government uses to ascertain when asylum applicants may obtain their lawful employment authorization documents.
The advocates, representing the countrywide group of immigrants, asserted that the current system unlawfully denies asylum seekers the opportunity to be issued employment authorization documents, if the decisions in their asylum applications have been pending for six months or more. Many applicants end up waiting for months on end, or even for up to ten years for a decision to be made on their asylum application. Such situation was intolerable, because most asylum applicants have fled their home countries in fear for their lives, and without any financial resources, and have no means to support themselves and their families.
Ms. Mary Kenney, Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the following: “The settlement agreement includes significant changes to ensure that vulnerable asylum-seekers are no longer arbitrarily deprived of the ability to work while the government decides their cases,”
The settlement agreement, filed April 12, 2013 in a federal district court in Washington State, is awaiting a final approval of the judge overseeing the case. American Immigration Lawyers Association has made an this announcement yesterday, April 15, 2013.