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Illegal Chicago immigrants apply for work permits...not.

I really think Biden is going to turn things around.

You don't really think I believe that do you?

Where are the migrant work permits

Monica Eng/Axios


Only a "small percentage" of Venezuelan migrants in the Chicago area have applied for work permits since the Biden administration expanded temporary protections nearly two months ago, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Why it matters: State and local officials had been urging the move for months so migrants could start working sooner, which in turn could alleviate strain on shelters and resources.

Catch up fast: Biden announced in September that DHS would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelan migrants who had arrived in the country by July 31, 2023.

The order made an estimated 472,000 Venezuelan migrants in the U.S. — 11,000 in Chicago — eligible to apply for work permits called EADs.

But nearly two months later, it's unclear how many have been approved.

What they're saying: DHS officials confirmed to Axios that permits have been issued since the announcement, but declined to share the number.

The agency says it's worked to address the lack of applications by sending more than 1 million email and text notifications to eligible migrants in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, a coalition of city, state, and federal officials last week launched a work permit clinic at an undisclosed Chicago-area location to help migrants navigate the sign-up process.

The aim was to get 150 people signed up each day. As of yesterday, they had submitted 160 applications, according to state officials.

Between the lines: The simple answer for the paucity of new EADs may lie in approval delays at the federal level and a fairly recent start to the process.

Despite the Sept. 20 announcement, DHS officials say they only started taking applications for TPS and EADs under the expanded criteria on Oct. 3.

Other barriers include high application fees—which Chicago has asked the feds to waive— and, for some, lack any form of government ID.

"Many have their passports taken away at the border or lost during transit," Rachel Otwell at the Illinois Department of Human Services tells Axios.

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