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Grijalva, Gallego join House Democrats calling for expedited work permits for immigrants

Congressional Democrats including U.S. House Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Ruben Gallego are renewing calls for the Biden administration to make it easier and faster for asylum seekers to get work permits in the U.S.

In a letter first reported by Politico, more than 100 lawmakers tell President Joe Biden that asylum seekers are stuck in an immigration limbo.

At Citizenship and Immigration Services, a backlog of nearly 2 million cases is causing processing delays for everything, including work permits.

Meanwhile, asylum seekers awaiting court dates are not even allowed to work for their first six months in the U.S. 

The lawmakers say those two factors mean newly arrived immigrants can’t provide for their families or contribute to the U.S. economy.

Democrats say the current congressional makeup makes legislation to fix those issues hard to pass. But the administration could help with things like allowing people to apply for work permits when they ask for asylum. 

The letter echoes a similar one sent to the Department of Homeland Security by attorneys generals, including Arizona's Kris Mayes, asking the administration to streamline the work visa process.

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Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.