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Ahead of Labor Day: Business, Labor and Policymakers Call for Work Permits and TPS

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Washington, DC – Ahead of Labor Day, policymakers, business and labor leaders, advocates, workers, and Members of Congress are making the case for TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and expanded work permits, while independent economists and experts are offering reminders about the role and potential benefits to the U.S. economy and strengthening our labor market if more workers who are here are allowed to work legally. 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director, “Offering work permits and expanding the use of TPS would bolster our economy, stabilize communities and strengthen families. Immigrants want to work to support themselves and their families and our economy needs them. Unions and employers want people to work. Local electeds want people to work. So let’s get this done.

“While we await Congress finally doing its job and modernizing and overhauling our immigration system, President Biden should use every tool at his disposal to speed up the process of delivering work permits to people who could be contributing fully to our economy; helping American cities incorporate and integrate immigrants fully into the American fabric.”

The calls for action on work permits have increased in recent days. For example, yesterday, on a pre-Labor Day press call (recording accessible here), several union leaders and experts called on the Biden Administration to widen its use of TPS as an essential tool in strengthening labor rights and the U.S. economy. 

  • Mary Kay Henry, President of SEIU, said: “Bidenomics is about growing our economy from the middle out and the bottom up. Action on TPS fits right in with that because of the huge impact redesignating TPS for all countries that qualify would have on millions of low and middle income workers, who contribute billions to our economy through their collective productivity, wages and taxes. The Biden Administration needs to keep its commitment to working families and must not leave this economic and humanitarian tool on the table.”
  • James A. Williams, Jr., General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said: “By championing TPS, we can ensure our economy is one of inclusivity, fairness, and that acknowledges immigrants’ immense contributions, particularly building our nation’s infrastructure.”  
  • Enrique Fernandez, General Vice President, UNITEHERE International Union, said: “Our unions want to see action on TPS. Our communities want to see action on TPS. Our employers want to see action on TPS. We urge President Biden to pick up that pen and take action on TPS today.”
  • Daniel Costa, Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at Economic Policy Institute, “TPS strengthens the economy; there’s no question about it. TPS raises wages through the provision of work authorization to people who don’t have it. And having work authorization also means that workers will have labor and workplace rights that are actually enforceable, rather than just existing on paper.”

Meanwhile, business leaders and political leaders in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere have been calling on the Biden administration to speed up work permit processing:

  • As the Chicago Sun-Times writes in, “Chicago Democrats are pushing Biden to speed up work permits for migrants and long term undocumented. Will they succeed?” “Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Brandon Johnson and other Democratic leaders on Wednesday renewed their call for President Joe Biden to remedy one crisis — the labor shortage in the hospitality and other industries — by tapping potential from another: noncitizens, including the thousands of undocumented asylum-seekers arriving in Chicago by the busload almost daily from Texas. Alongside business leaders from several sectors, including the restaurant and construction industries, Pritzker, Johnson and a handful of members of the Illinois congressional delegation — all Democrats — held a news conference urging Biden to streamline the process for new arrivals to obtain work permits.”
  • In The Hill, Rafael Bernal highlights a letter released this week from more than 100 business executives that included a call for work permits alongside other calls to action: “…there is a compelling need for expedited processing of asylum applications and work permits for those who meet federal eligibility standards.”

And economists and economic analysts are highlighting the important benefits and labor market boost provided by immigrants – underscoring the potential to contribute even more if given the opportunity:

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