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  • Article: Government Data Reveal 5.5 Million New Work Permits Issued Since 2009. By Jessica Vaughan

    Government Data Reveal 5.5 Million New Work Permits Issued Since 2009

    by


    Government data reveal that more than 5.5 million new work permits were issued to aliens from 2009 to 2014, above and beyond the number of new green card and temporary worker admissions in those years. This is a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the limits set by Congress that inevitably impacts opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration.

    Approximately 1.8 million new work permits were issued to aliens with temporary visas or those who entered under the Visa Waiver Program. Of these, about 1.2 million (67 percent) had a visa status for which employment is not authorized by law. For example, more than 470,000 work permits were issued to aliens on tourist visas and 532,000 were issued to foreign students. More than 156,000 were issued to dependents of students and guestworkers, all in categories not authorized for employment by law.

    In addition, 963,000 new work permits were issued to aliens who have been granted permanent status or have a status that will lead to a green card. These are primarily refugees (418,000), fiancés of U.S. citizens (164,000), and approved asylum applicants (174,000).

    About 982,000 new work permits were issued in this time period to illegal aliens or aliens unqualified for admission. Of these, 957,000 were aliens who crossed the border illegally (Entered Without Inspection). Inexplicably, 1,200 new work permits were issued to aliens who were denied asylum, were suspected of using fraudulent documents, were stowaways, or were refused at a port of entry.

    A huge number of work permits, 1.7 million, were issued to aliens whose status was unknown, not recorded by the adjudicator, or not disclosed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that processes the applications. This should be a concern; work permits are gateway documents to driver's licenses and other benefits, and if the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual's identity? It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it.

    These statistics were obtained from USCIS in a Freedom of Information Act request. Status classifications are based on information from the application that is entered into USCIS databases. The agency chose to provide the data according to classifications that prevent computing the number of deferred action-based applications, illegal aliens who are in deportation proceedings, asylum applicants whose cases are pending, or aliens whose green card applications are not yet approved. It is likely that these case types are found in the categories of "EWI" and "Unknown/Not Reported". The figures reported here include only new work permits, not counting renewal or replacement cards issued.

    These statistics indicate that the executive branch is operating a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the bounds of the laws and limits written by Congress. It inevitably reduces job opportunities for Americans. In addition, allowing work permits to be issued to illegal aliens and temporary visitors damages the integrity of the legal immigration system and encourages illegal immigration. Congress has an opportunity this week to prevent the issuance of the next five million work permits if it votes to withhold funds for USCIS to implement President Obama's executive action plans.


    This post originally appeared on Center for Immigration Studies. Reprinted with permission.


    About The Author

    Jessica M. Vaughan serves as Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC-based research institute that examines the impact of immigration on American society and educates policymakers and opinion leaders on immigration issues. She has been with the Center since 1992, and her area of expertise is immigration policy and operations, covering topics such as visa programs, immigration benefits and immigration law enforcement. Ms. Vaughan recently completed several major projects on immigration and crime, including a Department of Justice-funded project studying the use of immigration law enforcement in transnational gang suppression efforts. In addition, she is an instructor for senior law enforcement officer training seminars at Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety in Illinois.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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