Welcome to the Senate Republican Press Search.

View Article Details


Illinois should issue its own work permits to migrants

Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, May 24, 2023  |  Letter to Editor  |   Bryan Cones

Sheldon Jacobson’s suggestions for improving the processing of asylum-seekers (”Here’s how the government can improve processing immigrants,” May 22) are good as far as it goes, but it fails to address what happens after those migrating are processed. In effect, they are released into the country with no resources and no opportunity to work and earn, even though they are eager to do so. It can take up to a year for new arrivals to receive a federal work permit, leaving them either to rely on the good will of religious and nonprofit organizations or to enter a thriving (and often abusive) “gray” labor market, where they suffer poor wages and few protections. My Episcopal church in Highland Park, like many other faith communities, has been providing housing and support for two Venezuelan families, and we are discovering that helping them achieve independence and self-sufficiency is stymied by policies that set them up to fail.

One solution would be for the Biden administration to speed access to work permits for anyone released into the country after encountering immigration authorities, rather than waiting 150 days after filing an asylum claim. Given Washington gridlock, that seems unlikely. Another daring option would be for our “sanctuary state” of Illinois to issue its own work permits for those residing in the state. That would regularize the work migrants are already doing, offer them some protection, and allow them to contribute to the common good through their taxes. Doing so might help our new neighbors achieve the dignity and self-sufficiency they desire, as well as relieve the burden on our strained social safety net.

Bryan Cones, pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church, Highland Park