New Migrants Get Work Permits. Other Undocumented Immigrants Want Them, Too.

Sam Sanchez, a Chicago restaurateur, was incensed when President Biden announced last September that his administration would extend work eligibility to nearly half a million Venezuelans, many of them migrants who had recently crossed the border illegally.

What about his undocumented employees like Ruben, a Mexican father of two U.S.-born children who has been in the United States since 1987, and Juan, another Mexican worker, who has trained dozens of new hires at Moe’s Cantina?

“It’s offensive that my employees and other immigrants are being leapfrogged by new arrivals,” said Mr. Sanchez, who is on the board of the National Restaurant Association.

Having built lives and families since entering the country unlawfully many years ago, they have been waiting for Congress to give them a path to work legally. “For those of us here a long time trying to do everything right, it’s just not fair that we are forgotten,” said Juan, 53, whose last name was withheld out of concern about his immigration status.

Confronted with an influx of migrants making their way to Chicago, New York and other big cities, Mr. Biden has used executive power to allow several hundred thousand of them to live and work temporarily in the United States in an effort to make them less reliant on shelters and other assistance.

Now groups representing undocumented immigrants and their U.S.-citizen children — as well as their employers — are urging the president to deploy the same broad power to open channels for the more than eight million living in the United States who are barred from legal employment.

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