Sessions rescinds DOJ guidance on refugees, asylum seekers’ right to work

Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday rescinded 2011 Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance that dictated refugees and asylum seekers have the right to work in the U.S.

The document, issued by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, stated that the refugees and asylum seekers are “authorized to work indefinitely” and can receive Social Security cards “without employment restrictions.”

A Justice Department spokesperson told The Hill that the document was rescinded after a 2014 document laid out similar guidelines, including those on refugees and asylum seekers being allowed to work indefinitely.

The guidance also stated that employers cannot require employees to show Department of Homeland Security-issued documents, if they have a Social Security card and a state-issued driver’s license or ID card.

{mosads}Employers were also blocked from refusing to hire refugees or asylum seekers for not having a Social Security number, according to the guidance.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it was rescinding 24 guidance documents that were deemed to be “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper,” according to a department release.

DOJ also rescinded a 2009 guidance that told employers to “avoid ‘citizens only’ hiring policies or requirements that applicants have a particular immigration status,” unless doing so was required by law. The document also stated that employers should only check if individuals are eligible to work after the decision is made to hire them.

Sessions said in the release that Americans “deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them.”

“When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President,” he said. “In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website.”

“That’s wrong, and it’s not good government,” he added.

The move comes as the Trump administration cracks down on immigration, implementing a “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants crossing the border, including asylum seekers.

Sessions also announced last month that the Trump administration would stop granting asylum to foreign victims of gang violence and domestic abuse, arguing that the asylum system was being “abused to the detriment of the rule of law.”

—Updated at 5:19 p.m.

Tags asylum seekers Department of Justice Jeff Sessions refugees

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