New York City officials have acknowledged that out of the 64,000 migrants under the city’s care, only 2,100 migrants in its care have sought work permits, and none have yet received federal approval.
The city also shared that they do not have a clear estimate of how many of the over 40,000 adult asylum-seeking migrants they shelter are eligible to work legally.
Since the start of the migrant crisis, NYC has seen over 126,000 migrants, with an estimated 64,000 still under the city’s care.
This unclear stance has led to concerns among city council members, including Democrats. Council Member Robert Holden (D-Queens) voiced his frustration, stating, “This migrant strategy is going nowhere fast: We have to secure the border.”
While the city’s migrant assistance center has processed 444 work applications, an additional 1,700 have been handled with federal support in Lower Manhattan.
However, none of these applications have received the necessary federal endorsement.
The City Council’s Committee on Immigration hearing on Wednesday, October 18th, revealed that despite the Biden administration’s recent decision to grant temporary protective status (TPS) to Venezuelans, the city has not made any prioritization or communication efforts in this regard.
Asylum Application Help Center Executive Director Masha Gindler explained the situation, saying, “We [had] booked through all of October when the TPS was announced, so we could not have additional clients come in because we fully book our appointments as much as possible.”
The Midtown-based Asylum Application Help Center, equipped with 75 staff members and 20 supervisory attorneys, has processed 5,600 asylum applications since the end of June. Only 300 of the 2,100 work applications were from Venezuelans, according to Gindler.
Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul had earlier supported work permits for migrants, suggesting that employment would accelerate their move out of New York City’s overloaded shelter system.
While TPS applications are expected to be processed quickly, non-TPS applicants face a wait of up to six months after their formal asylum plea.
The city also initiated a comprehensive survey to gather more data on the migrants they oversee, which was expected to conclude in a short period. During that period, they received 800 work permit applications.
Despite the delays, the city remains optimistic, aiming to identify and schedule all eligible Venezuelans for appointments by year-end.