Howard County is joining an amicus brief, filed by the State of New York, in support of the CASA complaint against the Trump administration’s rule to delay applicants for asylum from getting authorization to work while their application is processed.

“When human beings from other countries are seeking refuge from unimaginable violence, religious oppression and political retaliation, this is not how they should be treated,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “This clearly discriminatory rule dismantles the asylum process, prevents the opportunity for growth, and forces innocent people seeking refuge into poor circumstances.”

This new rule would delay for up to one year or eliminate work authorization for thousands of asylum seekers. The complaint notes that without a system of federal assistance for asylum seekers, work authorization and employment has been the primary means for asylum seekers to meet their basic and legal needs while pursuing their claims. The new rule also places a significant burden on asylum seekers, and on local jurisdictions who will need to provide social resources and services for residents who are unable to work. Denying asylum seekers the right to work may also push immigrants into underground jobs that are unsafe.

“Healthy communities count on robust employers for goods and services that make them desirable places to live,” said Mike Mitchell, executive director of the Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN). “Therefore, denying work authorization to asylum seekers is not only morally unfit in supporting them and their families, it also undermines the economic and social fabric of once healthy communities. DHS needs to reverse its rule, so Howard County and other communities can ensure vitality and grow.”

Asylum seekers provide an increased tax base and contribute to the local economy. In total, immigrant-led households paid $150 billion in state and local taxes and exercised $1.2 trillion in spending power nationwide in 2018, according to Howard County.