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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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August 17, 2023

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul called for immediate action from the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant work authorization permits for immigrants who have been allowed to enter and remain in the United States temporarily.  

Many new arrivals have been “paroled” into the United States, meaning that they are legally allowed in the country while their request for admission is reviewed. Those who have been granted parole are immediately eligible for work authorization, but processing delays have left many newcomers unable to support themselves and their families. This has also placed an increasing and unsustainable burden on states that offer support services to ensure these new arrivals do not go without food, shelter, education and medical care. Raoul joined a coalition of 19 state attorneys general in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calling for immediate action to ensure work authorization for new arrivals.

“People who come to America and are authorized to work should not face long wait times and burdensome bureaucratic hurdles,” Raoul said. “Giving immigrants the chance to work helps relieve overburdened safety net resources and provides them an opportunity to contribute to the country in which they have sought refuge.”

Processing delays have left many new arrivals eager to find employment waiting for ten months or more for work permits. Wait times are particularly long for those who require a fee waiver, as they cannot submit their applications online. Of those immigrants who have managed to secure employment authorization, many have lost their jobs due to the expiration of their work permits while renewal applications are pending. 

Specifically, Raoul and the attorneys general are urging DHS to: 

  • Grant work authorization upon issuance of parole, or allow parolees who have applied for work authorization to work while those applications are pending. 
  • Address inconsistent lengths of parole and streamline renewal.
  • Automatically renew work authorization permits whenever parole or other immigration status is renewed, like the process for Temporary Protected Status. 
  • Make work authorization applications with a fee waiver available online to streamline and expedite processes.  

Raoul is joined in sending the letter by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.