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Sinema, Collins want to make it easier for asylum seekers to work

Posted at 11:46 AM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 13:46:27-05

PORTLAND, ME — Senators from Maine and Arizona want to make it easier for asylum seekers to get jobs shortly after entering the country.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said their proposal would shorten the waiting period before the asylum seekers are allowed to file for work authorizations. The proposal would allow them to file work authorizations 30 days after applying for asylum.

Current law states that asylum seekers cannot work for six months, leaving communities where they live scrambling to find a way to help support them, the senators said. Cities in Collins' state, including Portland, have grappled with this problem over the past year as asylum seekers have arrived from African nations.

The law change 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," Collins said.