A dozen Democrats in the Senate are petitioning President Joe Biden to let states sponsor immigrants and asylum seekers so they can obtain immediate work authorizations.
Led by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the group of senators sent a letter to Biden that claims the United States is facing a major workforce shortage in multiple industries that can only be addressed through immigrant labor.
The letter says that economists believe the shortage is due to the two years of lost immigration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is no surprise that state leaders have called for immigration reform to meet their state’s workforce needs. Without such reforms, some businesses have closed their doors. Others have hired workers without authorization, leaving such workers at risk of artificially depressed wages and poor working conditions,” the letter states.
It goes on to say the majority of immigrants who cross the southern border are “ready, capable, and willing” to work, but they struggle to find work due to the immigration system’s legal obstacles, such as a six month waiting period for asylum seekers to receive work permits.
Conversely, those who receive parole to enter the country can immediately apply for work authorization, which is what the senators are asking Biden to allow.
The group is urging Biden to allow the secretary of homeland security to issue mass paroles to immigrants already in the country as well as those expected to surge across the border with the end of Title 42.
“Allowing these states to op into a lawful, orderly, and efficient parole program to meet work force needs in critical industries would provide an enormous public benefit to all Americans,” the letter states.
Some of the “critical industries” the senators claim would benefit from immigrant labor include food production and health care.
Beside Durbin, Democrat Senators Tammy Duckworth (IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Mazie Hirono (HI), Cory Booker (NJ), Alex Padilla (CA), Peter Welch (VT), Bob Menendez (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Angus King (ME), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and John Hickenlooper (CO) all signed the letter.