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On Press Call, NYC, LA, Boston Experts Call on Congress to Provide Critical Funds to Cities and States Assisting Asylum Seekers & Expanding Work Authorizations

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Groups Called on Members of Congress to Stand Strong Against Extreme Immigration Policies

Washington, DC Today, leading immigration policy experts and advocates from New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles called on Congress to pass much-needed funding for cities to improve the asylum process and support asylum seekers so they can fully contribute to the economic and cultural life of our communities.

On the call, policy experts and advocates highlighted the resources in the President’s supplemental request for cities that meet the basic needs of asylum seekers while delivering policy that strengthens the legal process, helps people reunite with families, and allows people to get back on their feet by allowing them to work legally. The speakers on the call emphasized that aid to Americans should not be held up in Congress due to partisan agendas that would cause chaos at the border, slow down the asylum process and reduce immigration through legal channels.

“While localities across the country continue welcoming asylum seekers at great costs to their regions, MAGA Republicans hold the American people hostage to their extremist demands in exchange for funding Ukraine in the supplemental budget. This is the same party that thought separating families at the border and caging them was normal and humane practice to deter people from their legal right to claim asylum. Congress must advance bipartisan solutions to get past this manmade roadblock, make the existing border process work better while keeping all communities safe, including: enhancing asylum processing, reducing backlogs and work permit waiting times, resourcing states, localities, and community shelter and support services, and bolstering access to legal counsel,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “New York City has welcomed over 120,00 asylum seekers and we need real support from the federal government to ensure immigrant communities are on a path to self-sufficiency. We urge Washington to reconvene and pass bi-partisan solutions that reject cruel and unnecessary changes to our immigration system, and push for additional federal funding to continue our efforts in providing essential resources for everyone to thrive and live their American dream.

“Our vision is a Massachusetts – and a nation – where all can thrive, no matter where they came from or how they got here, and all can fully participate in their community’s social, economic, and civic life. The President’s supplemental funding package would deliver funds to Boston and other cities and states and deliver meaningful results for our communities and asylum seekers and their families,” said Kate Froehlich, Director of Immigrant Assistance Services (IAS) of Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA Coalition). “We cannot be distracted by members of Congress and stay focused on creating meaningful change. We must strengthen our asylum process to ensure asylum seekers have the opportunities to contribute and thrive.” 

“Immigrants are not political pawns and should not be held as ransom for aid to Ukraine. Congress must stand fast against bad-faith efforts to create cruel, ineffective immigration policies,” said Gloria Cruz, Director of Policy and Advocacy of Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). “Congress must increase funding to improve the asylum process, expand access to legal counsel, and provide resources to states, localities and community shelter and support services.” 

“People who need protection should be able to find it here in the United States. There is a way to fully fund our asylum process to support asylum seekers and improve management of our border without caving on cruel policies that end humanitarian protections and eliminate vital tools to promote legal immigration and respond during moments of international crisis,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Director of American Immigration Council. “Supplemental funding to restore the integrity of the system would promote efficient and fair resolution of asylum cases and provide meaningful help for our cities and states to ensure immigrants can get the support they need. Negotiations must be based around reaching bipartisan consensus on these complicated issues, not around demands for radical changes that would increase confusion and chaos at the border, harm the most vulnerable, and fail to fix the underlying problems.” 

“President Biden is delivering real solutions for border security in his supplemental package while delivering crucial support for cities and states across our nation,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Congress must move forward with the President’s supplemental funding bill to strengthen the ability of our cities and states to support asylum seekers while avoiding policy that harms legal immigration and causes more chaos at the border.” 

To access an audio recording of today’s call, click HERE