Human Rights Initiative Statement on Proposal to Limit Asylum Seekers from Supporting Themselves While Their Applications Are Pending

DALLAS – On November 13, 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposed rule that would limit asylum seekers from supporting themselves while their applications are pending. Among other things, the rule would force asylum seekers to wait a full year after their applications are filed to apply for work authorization, and it would categorically prohibit some asylum seekers from accessing work authorization altogether.

“HRI’s clients flee from violence, torture, and threats of death at a moment’s notice. When they finally make it safely to US soil, they’re often in dire circumstances. Travel has wiped out savings. It’s lucky if they know anyone in the US that can provide some temporary help,” said Pilar Ferguson, HRI’s Asylum Program Director. “Work authorization is a lifeline. People already have to wait a year to a year and a half after they arrive in the US. The administration’s attempts to force people to wait an additional year to access that lifeline—and deny it entirely because of the particular way the asylum seeker sought safety in the US—is incomprehensible.”

About Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Founded by social worker Serena Simmons Connelly and lawyer Elizabeth Healy, the Dallas-based Human Rights Initiative of North Texas has grown into an award-winning agency helping immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from all over the world. Our courageous and resilient clients are eligible to apply for legal status under the humanitarian provisions of U.S. immigration laws and policies: they are asylum seekers fleeing persecution; children who have been abandoned, abused, and neglected; and victims of family violence and violent crimes. HRI’s Legal team partners with a network of over 250 pro bono attorneys from top DFW firms and corporations to help clients access the U.S. immigration system, and our Social Services team offers transitional support and referrals to help address trauma and ease the hardships of profound displacement. At HRI, all of our services are free, and all are designed to help forge a path to safety, stability and opportunity. For more information, visit


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