FWD.us Statement: Department of Homeland Security Formally Withdraws Trump-era H-4 Work Authorization Rule

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Homeland Security formally withdrew a Trump-Pence Administration proposal yesterday to rescind work authorization for H-4 visa holders, and to limit eligibility waivers under the “unlawful presence” policy. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:

“We commend the Biden-Harris Administration for taking immediate action to turn the page from the Trump-Pence Administration’s disastrous immigration policies, and to do right by more than 100,000 hardworking immigrants who are contributing to the United States every single day in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Allowing H-4 visa holders the ability to continue working and providing for their families has profound, life-changing effects for these individuals and our communities. Roughly 93 percent are women, and many are working in essential roles that are key to supporting our nation’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the end of the day, there is no successful economic or public health recovery without bold action from lawmakers to protect immigrant essential workers and keep immigrant families safe and together. Congress must work together to immediately pass the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would formalize work authorization for H-4 visa holders, create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant essential workers, and address the bureaucratic backlogs that plague our broken immigration system.”

The withdrawal of these proposals follows from President Biden’s Regulatory Freeze executive order, issued on his first day in office.

The H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) rule, first implemented by the Obama-Biden Administration in 2015, has allowed more than 100,000 people – predominantly women with advanced degrees from American universities – to contribute their skills and support their families in the U.S. while waiting for green cards for which they have already been approved. Many H-4 visa holders are doctors, scientists and teachers, and are working in crucial industries that are key to our nation’s response and economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Research shows that ending H-4 would damage the economy and cost jobs, with no clear benefit to other workers. Meanwhile, expanding protections for spouses and children of temporary workers will help keep families together and keep the U.S. globally competitive as we rebuild from the pandemic. The Trump-Pence Administration’s first attempts to weaponize “unlawful presence” policy and expand deportability were found illegal and halted by a federal judge in February 2020.

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