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Regarding “U.S. proposes tougher rules on work permits for asylum-seekers” (Nov. 14): We are in the midst of an unprecedented global displacement crisis, yet the Trump administration has slashed the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. This is unacceptable. The Refugee Act of 1980, a policy still in effect today, requires the president to adjust the annual number of refugees admitted to the U.S. based on humanitarian concerns. Instead, President Donald Trump’s newest proposal would further harm people seeking safety from persecution.

Venezuela, for example, has seen an 8,000% increase in those seeking asylum since 2014, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Only 4% of these people have received a legal designation as refugees, severely limiting the number of people eligible for U.S. employment access under the Refugee Act.

Denying asylum seekers work permits while they await refugee status increases their risk of trafficking, exploitation and poverty. The U.S. must live up to the Refugee Act’s intention and open its doors to those who have been forced to flee their homes and their countries. Beyond that, it is our responsibility to ensure the timely provision of legal labor opportunities for all people in our country, as it should be considered a human right to provide for oneself and one's family.

Alli Gillespie • University City