Southland immigrants’ rights organizations have filed suit in a bid to force the Biden administration to promptly issue work permits to young immigrants who have applications pending for special youth visas.

Young immigrants must sometimes wait up to six years before being granted permits to work–a policy that has left some immigrants to work for unscrupulous employers while waiting to receive authorization, according to the civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others.

The delay can also mean that tens of thousands of young immigrants with pending or approved visas cannot obtain any form of identification or driver’s license, the proposed class-action complaint says.

Plaintiffs also include the Los Angeles organizations Casa Libre; Freedom House; the Central American Resource Center; and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

“These vulnerable young people sought freedom from an environment of instability, uncertainty and violence by seeking sanctuary in the United States,” said Peter Schey, lead counsel and executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which is among the plaintiffs.

“Making them wait six years to receive work permits and forcing them to live in destitution brings them more instability, uncertainty and abuse at the hands of unscrupulous employers. These delays frustrate Congress’ purpose in creating this humanitarian protection. The Biden administration must right this terrible wrong,’ he added. “According to the lawsuit, there is “no rational, substantial or compelling reason for the disparate and discriminatory way in which defendants treat young abused, neglected and abandoned immigrants filing SIJ (Special Immigrant Juvenile) petitions.”

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