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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Support Coons Amendment #8 to S. 744 to Fix the Employment Authorization Asylum Clock

Advocacy Letter - 05/20/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley


The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Grassley, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our strong support for Senator Coons’ amendment #8 to S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” Coons amendment #8 would fix the broken asylum clock for employment authorizations by requiring decisions on such applications within 180 days. This would eliminate the ambiguity and confusion in current law and provide the waiting pool of applicants with needed authorization to work so they can support themselves and their families.

Current law requires asylum applicants to wait 150 days after filing a completed asylum application before applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The government then has 30 days to adjudicate the EAD application, so an EAD cannot be issued until the asylum application has been pending for a total of 180 days – otherwise known as the asylum clock. Both asylum officers (AOs) and immigration judges have the power to stop the clock for any delay that they determine is caused by or requested by the applicant. Yet the application of this provision varies widely, as the standard is unclear and there are few requirements of documentation or transparency. A recent report examining the current system for issuing the (EAD) to waiting asylees describes numerous problems with the current system.i

The government’s current administration of the EAD asylum clock causes asylum applicants to experience excessive delays in obtaining work authorization or, in some cases, not receive it at all. During this time, many applicants must support themselves or rely on others for financial assistance and often experience severe financial hardship. Work authorization enables asylum applicants to secure an independent livelihood for themselves and their families. Coons Amendment #8 would ensure that applicants become eligible for their EAD in 180 days, thus allowing applicants to obtain legal work here.

For these reasons we urge you to support Coons amendment #1. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact June Zeitlin, Senior Counsel, at (202) 263-2852 or zeitlin@civilrights.org.

Wade Henderson, President and CEO

Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President


Notes

i Legal Action Center at American Immigration Council and Center for Immigrant Rights at Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University; “Up Against the Clock: Fixing the Broken Employment Authorization Asylum Clock” (2010), at http://www.legalactioncenter.org/sites/default/files/docs/lac/Asylum_Clock_Paper.pdf

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