Hochul and Adams Ask Biden to Expedite Migrant Work Permits Amid Calls for NYC to Get More State Help

Recent immigrants to the United States sit with their belongings on the sidewalk in front of the Watson Hotel in New York, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (New York Daily News/TNS) — Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has faced criticism lately for not doing enough to help tackle New York City’s migrant crisis, joined Mayor Eric Adams on Monday in begging President Joe Biden to use executive authority to expedite work papers for asylum seekers.

Under federal law, asylum seekers must generally wait six months from the day they submit their claims before they can apply for U.S. work authorization — a delay Adams, Hochul and other New York politicians have said is highly problematic at a time when tens of thousands of migrants are residing in the city.

In a Monday morning press conference with Hochul, Adams said Biden can by the stroke of a pen undo the six-month rule.

“We can do this by direct action by the executive branch of the federal government. Without legislation, we can get this done,” said Adams, who has recently used increasingly heated rhetoric to criticize Biden over the migrant crisis.

There’s no point in waiting on Republicans in Congress to help out, Adams added.

“Republicans have, as we know, blocked all attempts at fixing our broken immigration system, intentionally causing chaos and dysfunction. We cannot believe all of a sudden that’s going to change with a Republican-controlled Congress,” the mayor said. “If we don’t get it done through a presidential action, we are going to slow down the progress we need.”

Hochul, who unlike Adams was earlier this month tapped as an official surrogate for Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign, opted against putting the president on the spot over the work authorization issue in her remarks.

Rather, she said “all levels of government” must help find a fix.

“They are ready to work, they are willing to work, but they’re not able to work,” the governor said of migrants waiting for months on work papers.

About Biden’s administration, she added: “We’re working with the White House. We have not received a flat no. We’re going to continue working with them.”

Spokespeople for the White House did not immediately return requests for comment.

The quickest way Biden could expedite work papers for the tens of thousands of mostly Latin American migrants who have arrived in the city since last spring is extending so-called Temporary Protected Status for a handful of countries from which most of them hail, including Venezuela.

Citizens from countries with that status can apply for work authorization immediately upon arriving in the U.S.

Supporters have said putting countries like Venezuela back on the TPS list is a way for Biden to lift the work authorization waiting period without having to rely on congressional action.

Adams’ latest broadside against Biden comes on the heels of reporting that the president’s team is growing increasingly angry with the mayor’s migrant crisis rhetoric.

In addition to blasting Biden, Adams has singled out Hochul’s administration for some veiled migrant-related criticism lately. Earlier this month, he issued a statement saying both the state and the feds have left the city “without the necessary support to manage this crisis.”

That comment from Adams came after Hochul inked a state budget deal that included $1 billion that the city can use to cover costs related to sheltering and providing services for migrants.

At one point in Monday’s press conference, Hochul turned to Adams and promised to deliver more state help.

“Be sure that’s not the end of it,” she told him of the $1 billion cash pot. “We’ll just leave it at that right now, but we are going to make sure you have what you need, mayor, we are going to make sure you have what you need because we are committed to getting this right.”

She said the future help will likely include opening up state-owned properties for use as migrant shelters.

Among other facilities, Hochul mentioned her administration is looking at repurposing “former correctional facilities” as migrant housing — echoing a controversial proposal by Adams’ team to potentially put asylum seekers on Rikers Island, as first reported by the Daily News.

The governor acknowledged housing migrants in shuttered prisons is ”not ideal.”

“But that is space where we can change the environment,” she added.

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