WASHINGTON – One of the main needs of newly arrived migrants flooding Chicago and living in shelters – legally in the United States – is to obtain a work permit so they can join the workforce, earn money and find a place to live.
A Biden administration pilot program, which begins Thursday in Chicago, is designed to help newcomers to shelters overwhelming the city apply for work authorization.
The pilot program is a joint effort of the White House, Illinois City Hall and the Resurrection Project, a social services agency that provides legal services to migrants.
This comes as local, state and federal officials in Illinois – and potential employers – have pushed President Joe Biden to speed up work permits to ease some of the city’s crushing financial burden and of the state and fill a large number of work permits. job offers.
The time it takes to obtain a work permit depends on the status granted to the migrant in the United States.
But no work permit, no matter how long it takes to obtain it, whether 30 days or six months, can be granted. if a person does not apply.
The pilot program addresses the critical reality that more needs to be done in Chicago to get migrants to submit work permit applications, with fingerprinting and photography being part of that process.
Angelo Fernández Hernández, a White House spokesman, told the Sun-Times that Thursday’s launch of what they call a “clinic” is designed to be “a one-stop work authorization clinic to help securing work authorizations and jobs for eligible non-citizens…and unwinding the shelter system.
“The clinic will begin as a pilot, serving approximately 150 migrants per day, and we will work with the state, the city and the Resurrection Project as they expand in the coming days and weeks,” Fernández said Hernandez.
In Chicago, the Department of Homeland Security will deploy about a dozen employees to help new arrivals navigate the immigration system and apply for work authorization.
Rachel Otwell, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services, and Jason Lee, a top adviser to Mayor Brandon Johnson, said city and state staff would help screen migrants in shelters to determine who would participate in the pilot program.
Otwell said the clinic will be staffed by legal aid providers, volunteer pro bono attorneys, as well as bilingual federal, state and municipal staff. The Resurrection Project, which Otwell said has a contract with the state, will help manage the project.
Part of the assistance will be providing transportation for migrants to the clinic for their appointments with federal intake staff. The address of this office is not made public for security reasons.
A similar pilot program has started in New York and another is in the works for the Boston area. The New York pilot clinic opened in September, and at this point the pilot is expected to continue over the coming weeks and months.
Application fees can sometimes run into the hundreds of dollars. The Sun-Times has learned that if an applicant requests a fee waiver, it is likely to be granted.
Johnson was in Washington last week seeking more financial and other aid for migrants. The Biden administration has come under friendly fire from Democratic officials in cities flooded with migrants — particularly New York and, increasingly, Chicago — sent to Democratic cities primarily from Republican-led Texas.
Illinois Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago-area Democratic members of the House of Representatives have all pressured the Biden White House to do more as the Costs reach hundreds of millions of dollars to provide shelter and health care to migrants. most come from Venezuela and many seek asylum for various reasons.
Tom Perez, Biden’s senior adviser and head of intergovernmental affairs, along with Biden’s chief of staff, Jeff Zients, have been in close contact with Illinois officials for months.
The app pilot is “an important part of the overall strategy to create a faster pathway for asylum seekers to work and achieve independence,” Otwell said.
Johnson’s press secretary, Ronnie Reese, said: “The City of Chicago is working to help asylum seekers get on the path to self-sufficiency as quickly as possible, and permission to work is a crucial step in this process. »
Meanwhile, the White House continues to face pressure from Democrats in states hardest hit by migrants to increase the amount of emergency funding it is seeking as an additional measure. The White House is asking for $1.4 billion. Johnson said last week that $5 billion was needed.
On Monday, Chicago Democratic Reps. Delia C. Ramirez and Jesús “Chuy” García joined their counterparts in New York and California to push for the $5 billion figure.