As an asylum seeker, living in Maine for three years and 11 months, my major concern is our future living in Maine.

There are many changes being implemented in the federal immigration system that are impacting the lives of many asylum seekers in this state. I work as a DSP, CRMA And CNA in a group home in Auburn, and being an essential worker in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is beneficial for the people we serve for us to be present when they need us.

As immigrants, we need to work to have ways to take care of our families, and pay for our bills, taxes and lawyers. But there is a new immigration rule that went into effect Aug. 24 that makes it harder for new and older asylum seekers to get their work authorization (employment authorization document) within 90 days.

It’s now changed to 365 days, and the most drastic change on immigration that impacted Maine asylum seekers was in January 2018, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the agency will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings in an attempt to stem the growth of the agency’s asylum backlog.

With COVID-19 things are even more difficult, as the USCIS is not interviewing asylum seekers the way it has been doing in the past. We need the situation of the work permit to be fixed, and also we humbly ask the USCIS to reconsider interviewing the older asylum cases that have been pending for a very long time.

Cristiano Macaia, Lewiston

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