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Months After Court Vacated Trump-Era Restrictions, Biden Administration Has Yet to Restore Access to Work Permits for Asylum Seekers


September 15, 2022 


Spencer Tilger | | (646) 761-2556


In New Court Filings, Asylum Seekers and Advocates Continue Fighting for Work Permits 

GREENBELT, MD – Last Friday, asylum seekers and advocates in the case CASA de Maryland v. Mayorkas asked a Maryland federal court to order the government to stop implementing Trump-era rules that severely limit asylum seekers’ ability to work while they wait for their asylum cases to be adjudicated. 

In February of this year, a different federal court declared the Trump-era rules unlawful in the case Asylumworks v. Mayorkas. However, the government has since failed to take the actions needed to stop implementing the rules, leaving tens of thousands of eligible asylum seekers without the ability to support themselves. The government also continues to tell the public that the rules remain in effect on its public rules websites

In this case, the court previously ordered the government not to apply some of the Trump-era rule changes to members of plaintiff organizations Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) and CASA de Maryland, back in September 2020. The plaintiffs are represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), ASAP, and the law firm Gibson Dunn, LLP. 

Mohannad Saleh, an asylum seeker and ASAP member, said, “The delay in processing my work permit has made life very difficult for me and my family. I was offered a job as a salesman, but the company cannot hire me unless I get a work permit, and soon they will rescind the job offer. I understand there are immigration procedures to follow — but we followed the rules, and the government did not do what it said it would. We have no help here, and no one else to rely on. I need to be able to work so I can build a future for our children.”

Linda Evarts, Senior Supervising Attorney at IRAP, said, “Even after a federal judge restored the requirement that asylum seeker work authorization applications be adjudicated within 30 days, the U.S. government continues to take months to issue work permits, leaving asylum seekers in dire financial situations. Our clients and their members continue to fight every day for the ability to work in this country to support themselves and their families. These unlawful rules should be gone for once and for all.”

Zachary Manfredi, Litigation and Advocacy Director at ASAP, said, “It has been more than seven months since these rules were declared unlawful. It is outrageous that the government still has not made work authorization accessible to asylum seekers. At the height of a labor shortage, asylum seekers are ready to work, but they are losing job opportunities and many are struggling to avoid homelessness and food insecurity because of government inaction. The Biden Administration needs to discard fully these Trump-era asylum policies and start following the law.”


  • To learn more about the case, visit IRAP’s website
  • View the recent filings here and here.
  • For resources for asylum seekers seeking work authorization, visit ASAP’s website.
  • Read more about the preliminary injunction in the case here.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) develops and enforces a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders. To learn more, visit our website:

The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) believes that asylum seekers can make great change by standing together. We provide our membership of asylum seekers with legal and community support. And we work with our members — over 380,000 asylum seekers — to build a more welcoming United States. ASAP members come from more than 175 countries and live in every U.S. state and territory. To learn more, visit our website: