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Immigrants Without Permanent Status Call for Legal Work Permits 

Amid a booming job market and growing employment prospects for recent asylum seekers, individuals without permanent legal status are ramping up their efforts to obtain legal work permits. 

The Biden administration recently announced a substantial expansion of work permits for a broad spectrum of immigrants, including those applying for green cards and seeking asylum.

The administration has not addressed the issue of legal work permits for millions of migrants who do not fit into specific categories. 

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However, officials have stated that they are aware of the concerns. 

Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, emphasized the administration’s understanding of the issue, acknowledging that many individuals in the U.S. have been undocumented for an extended period. 

Mayorkas noted that President Biden made initial efforts to address the issue legislatively on his first day in office, but congressional inaction has stalled concrete actions.

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Long-term immigrants residing in major cities without permanent legal status face significant challenges, particularly when they see newly arrived immigrants quickly obtaining the necessary paperwork, thereby highlighting their own decades-spanning struggles. 

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has joined the increasing number of voices calling for expanding permits, emphasizing the economic necessity and the importance of keeping families together.

The process of obtaining work permits for long-term immigrants is distinct from that for asylum seekers, clearly distinguishing the two categories. 

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Asylum seekers can apply for work permits after a certain period and stay legally in the country until their asylum claim is resolved. 

On the other hand, long-term undocumented immigrants have to navigate complicated or non-existent routes to gain legal work status.

The obstacle that remains constant is the absence of a definite course to acquiring work permits despite the fluctuations in the number of undocumented immigrants over the years. 

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The tragic incident of six immigrant workers who lost their lives due to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore highlights the urgent requirement of addressing this matter.

Advocates are urging the Biden administration to use the existing executive authorities, such as parole in place or cancellation of removal, to provide relief to immigrants who do not have a clear way of regularization.

The immigration system is complex, and while the administration has used certain executive authorities, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), advocates believe that more proactive measures need to be taken.

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Mayorkas recognizes the system’s intricacies and highlights the pressing need for reform, emphasizing that the administration is committed to exploring policy options to address the situation.

Despite the possibility of legal challenges, advocates urge the administration to take decisive measures to provide relief and solutions, demonstrating their commitment to immigrant communities.

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