HomeJobsWhile newly arrived migrants can obtain work permits, some of the long-undocumented...

While newly arrived migrants can obtain work permits, some of the long-undocumented feel forgotten

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A renewed push has been issued to allow more migrants to get jobs, and the fight over expanding access to work permits is happening in Chicago and in other cities.

But as more migrants continue coming to Chicago and are processed at the landing zone where buses arrive in the West Loop, some long-undocumented immigrants and their families say they feel forgotten. They are calling on President Joe Biden to grant them the same legal status that asylum seekers who arrived more recently are receiving.

“I am a Dreamer. I’ve been in this country for 17 years,” said Andres Rizo. “I was not able to qualify for DACA because I was six months – six months past the deadline.” DACA stands for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals and protects them from deportation. 

Rizo is a community organizer. He wants to be an attorney – but if he goes to law school, his legal status would bar him from working as one.

“It hurts when I volunteer at the TPS clinics down in downtown Chicago, and I help fill up the forms for the Venezuelans,” said Rizo, “and I’m not able to have those same work permits that I’m helping other people obtain.”

Rizo is one of the activists from Chicago calling on the White House to grant work permits to the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country – much like the U.S. did last year with nearly half a million Venezuelans who are in the country seeking assignments.

“Seeing so many new arrivals get work authorization – which is something that we all celebrate – but now we know that this is something that the president can give without congressional approval,” said immigration organizer Enddy Almonord.

Almonord’s father is undocumented but has been living in the U.S. for more than 25 years and working as a mechanic. Almonord herself also volunteers to help asylum seekers in Chicago.

“It’s wonderful that this is an opportunity that they have,” Almonord said, “but what about us?”

Emma Lozano, an activist and pastor at the United Lincoln Methodist Church in Chicago, is leading the call to action.

“They’ve completely forgotten us,” Lozano said.

One of Lozano’s church members activists, Elvira Arellano, will be attending President Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday – hoping to get their message across.

“President Biden, please wake up. Use your authority. Give us the same parole and workers’ permits that you’re giving to the new arrivals,” said Lozano, “or you know, you may not win the next election – because we are voters.”

The activists are taking their call to action to Washington, D.C. – and also bringing it back home. They will be holding a rally in support of work permits for all in Chicago this weekend.

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