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Thousands of migrants lose their jobs due to delays in obtaining work permits

2021-11-26T23:35:04.484Z

USCIS has millions of pending applications, in an unprecedented delay due to obstacles imposed by Trump and the pandemic. And companies are concerned about the lack of key professionals at a time when it is very difficult to replace them.



Thousands of immigrants have lost their jobs, or are about to lose them, due to unprecedented bureaucratic delays in the renewal of employment permits by the federal government, exacerbating the labor shortage that companies have suffered for some time. months. 

The Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it suffers from an unprecedented backlog of pending files.

As of June 30, it had

about 1.4 million applications for employment authorization

pending

, twice the number just before the pandemic and three times the number when former President Donald Trump arrived at the White House in early 2017.

"We are aware of the problem," admitted a USCIS official to the CNN news network.

The agency does not have a record of how many permits have expired due to the delay, but they have received complaints from immigrants, businesses and nonprofits.

The delays affect immigrants, who are left without income and must adjust their plans amid a scenario of absolute uncertainty, with delays that can take months, but also for employers, who

lose essential people at a time when replacing them is more difficult than ever

.

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Abelardo Ríos, a Florida-based telecommunications technician, was suspended from his job last week for not being able to renew his permit, and

was left without salary or health insurance

.

Ríos, who is seeking political asylum in the country, had submitted his application in February.

His employer, meanwhile, lost a worker in a difficult position to fill: he installs 5G equipment and "not everyone is willing to climb a 400-foot tower," he says in an interview with The Washington Post. 

Ríos is part of a class action lawsuit against USCIS for processing delays, brought by the nonprofit Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, which indicates that at least

2,000 of its members have recently lost or are about to lose their jobs

due to these delays.

A work permit for an asylum seeker is usually valid for two years.

The request or renewal shouldn't take long to be awarded: On average, USCIS employees spend just 12 minutes before making a decision on each application for employment authorization, the agency estimated in 2019.

However, in recent years a series of problems created an unprecedented bottleneck.

Even before the pandemic, the

Trump Administration complicated procedures and increased costs

.

By managing fewer files (and therefore receiving less income), it suffered a budget crisis and froze the hiring of new employees, also laying off contractors.

COVID-19 security measures were the final blow to a weakened system.

The Joe Biden Administration has reversed many policies, but the agency remains understaffed.

[Biden annuls Trump's executive order that denied visas to immigrants with fewer economic resources]

Asylum seekers are employed in industries experiencing a high-profile labor shortage: truck driving, food service, nursing and technology, and so on.

Among them are doctors and specialists who treated patients in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, among other essential workers. 

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The exit from the labor market of these immigrants exacerbates

the labor shortage in the country, in turn, is driving supply chain problems and inflation

The latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that 47% of companies suffered a shortage of skilled workers in the third quarter, up from 32% who reported a shortage in the second quarter of the year. 

A technology company lost five employees this year because their work permits had not been renewed, said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney representing the company.

"

There is a lot of concern that this continues to happen,

" he explained.

Gad Levanon, vice president of The Conference Board, a group of business experts, stressed that these workers are difficult to replace amid the market crisis. 

The arrival of foreign workers to the United States also suffered a slump under the Trump Administration.

The number of visas issued abroad fell by more than 60% between fiscal years 2016 and 2020. There are millions fewer immigrants in the country than would have been the case if pre-Trump immigration trends had continued.

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The Biden Administration has been cutting back on USCIS with policy changes, paying overtime and trying to hire more staff.

But by reversing Trump's policies, he has also increased the flow of work. 

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Biraj Nepal, a software engineer, is frequently notified by human resources that his work permit will expire in January, a reminder that he is about to lose his job. "We feel that this country is our home," said Nepal, that she has a 4-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, "but we live in constant fear because we don't know what will happen to us tomorrow."

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-11-26

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