Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in 2012 photo by Ramona du Houx
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced a bill on October 23rd that would make it easier for asylum seekers to get a job while waiting for their applications to be processed.
"These are people who are fleeing persecution in their own countries—many of them were in fear for their lives. And they come here to make a fresh start and they want to work and they want to do their fair share—but the rules prevent them from working," Pingree said. "We should reduce the time so they can get to work to support their families and add their skills to the workforce."
Pingree's bill, a House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Angus King, will allow asylum-seekers to apply for work authorization while filing their application for asylum, thereby helping them earn an income while also alleviating the pressure placed on municipal finances.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) codified the current 180-day work authorization framework, complete with a "clock" that starts and stops so that the "180-day" period often occurs over a number of years.