Sinema, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill Streamlining Asylum Seeker Work Authorization

Feb 8, 2023

Senators’ bipartisan legislation supports local communities by shortening employment authorization timelines

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema, keeping the focus on America’s broken border and immigration system, reintroduced the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act with Republican Senator Susan Collins (Maine) and Independent Senator Angus King (Maine). The bipartisan legislation limits the financial burden placed on local communities by streamlining employment authorization for asylum seekers who enter the United States at a port of entry, and have passed rigorous background checks.
“Asylum seekers who enter the United States properly and are attending all their court dates are not allowed to work for six months, forcing them to rely on assistance from non-profits and local communities. I will continue to fight to fix our broken immigration laws and speed up the asylum process, but we must limit the price Arizona communities pay for the federal government’s failures. From farming to manufacturing, our economy depends on a robust workforce – and our bipartisan bill helps asylum seekers fill those necessary roles and limit their reliance on charity,” said Sinema, Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee. 
“Over the span of the last two years, an historic number of asylum seekers have arrived in Portland and other communities after crossing our southern border.  These asylum seekers could give a much-needed boost to Maine businesses that are facing labor shortages, but the lengthy work authorization process prevents them from getting jobs,” said Senator Collins.  “Our commonsense legislation would lessen the burden on the budgets of communities hosting asylum seekers, while allowing these individuals and their families to support themselves as they want to do, bringing needed skills to the cities and towns in which they settle.”

The bipartisan legislation allows asylum seekers that enter the United States through a Port of Entry to receive work authorization 30 days after they submit their asylum application, as long as their identity is verified by the U.S. government and nothing in federal databases indicate they are inadmissible or deportable from the United States.
The Asylum Seeker Work Reauthorization Act continues Sinema’s work as Chair of the Senate Border Management Subcommittee to ensure the fair and humane treatment of migrants while securing the border and keeping Arizona communities safe.
Last month, Sinema led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the Southwest border in El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona, to see firsthand the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis that Arizona border communities witness every day. Sinema vowed to continue her work with solutions-focused colleagues who understand the need to deliver lasting solutions.
Sinema secured several border security priorities in last year’s annual bipartisan budget legislation, including:

  1. Support for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): $800 million for the CBP Shelter and Services Program, proving funding for NGOs and local governments that were previously under the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) – avoiding any interruptions during the transition from EFSP to the new Shelter and Services Program.
  2. Operation and Support: $15.6 billion for operation and support for CBP.
  3. Border Management: $1.56 billion for CBP border management, including for soft-sided facilities with wrap-around services, medical capabilities, child caregivers, overtime and temporary duty, DHS volunteer force, transportation, operational costs, flight hours, law enforcement personnel, and general contract support for processing. $339.7 million for ICE border management requirements, including $74.98 million in third-party medical costs related to migrants in CBP custody.
  4. Border Security Technologies: $230.28 million for border security technologies.
  5. CBP Facilities and Construction: $99.9 million for CBP facilities construction and improvements.
  6. Roads Infrastructure: $5 million for maintenance of tribal roads used by the U.S. Border Patrol.