Some 1,029 New York companies signed up to express interest in hiring immigrants and asylum seekers with work authorization. But how many jobs have been filled through the Department of Labor initiative is less clear.

Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Hochul at an October update on the jobs placement program.

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For months, both Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul have stressed the importance of employment as a path out of taxpayer-funded shelters for the roughly 69,000 new immigrants currently in the city’s care.

“Migrants and asylum seekers came here to work—so let’s put them to work,” Gov. Hochul said in August, announcing a program in which the State’s Department of Labor (DOL) would connect with employers to find job openings fillable by migrants and asylum seekers with work authorization.

Since the initiative launched, the department says it has identified 39,674 jobs open to immigrants in New York via 1,029 companies that expressed interest through an online portal run by the DOL.

How many of those positions have been filled is less clear. The DOL does not keep track of who has been hired through the program, making it difficult to gauge the impact among newly arrived immigrants, whose days in the city’s shelters are now numbered.

“We don’t have a comprehensive number as there is no requirement for employers or asylum seekers to report back to us,” a DOL spokesperson explained.

But the agency says about 3,000 immigrants looking for work or career assistance have registered for the initiative. A good portion of those who have found positions through the program have been in industries such as transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food service, and cleaning, maintenance and repair.

“We have prioritized those companies with the most openings and ability to employ those who may not speak English, and those who have jobs that match the skills of the job seekers,” a spokesperson explained.

City Limits spoke to four companies who registered open positions with the program, and while all have hired recently arrived migrants, none were aware of jobs filled as a result of the state initiative. A DOL spokesperson, however, said it provides job referrals “to the individual seeking a job.” 

“So it’s highly likely individuals are applying for jobs and the employer wouldn’t see it as a ‘referral from DOL’ even though it is,” the agency rep said.

Among those looking to hire was The Mirror Lake Inn, a resort and spa in Lake Placid, New York. The company has 25 to 30 positions that usually go to J1 Visa holders for short time periods, which it was hoping to find more permanent, long-term workers to fill, according to Andrew Weibrecht, operations manager.

The Children’s Village, a nonprofit that works with families and youth, also signed up.

 “The Children’s Village (CV) has a long history of working with immigrants and immigrant communities,” President and CEO Jeremy Kohomban said. “In fact, almost one-third of our staff are first-generation immigrants,” he said, adding that they’re constantly looking for new talent, so it would be difficult to attribute recruitments to specific programs.

Since 2022, more than 168,500 migrants have come to New York City, many of them desperate to find work fast. Some have secured under-the-table jobs, while others have fallen victim to employment scams.

Applicants seeking referrals through the state’s job program must have already obtained Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), which asylum seekers are eligible to apply for 150 days after they file an immigration claim—a time period New York leaders have been urging the federal government to shorten.

In September, President Joe Biden announced the extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelan immigrants, which Mayor Adams’ administration estimated at the time would allow 15,000 immigrants in the city’s care to begin working legally.

In addition to job referrals, immigrants who register for the state program can get help accessing other career services like English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, resume development, counseling, training opportunities, and connections to supportive services, according to the DOL. In the last two months, the labor department has held eight job fairs as part of the initiative, primarily for businesses in New York City.

Asylum seekers with work authorization in New York can register for assistance by completing the Career Assistance Request Form online. The DOL also has Career Centers that work with immigrants with work authorization to assess skills, work history, education, career interests, and connect with supportive services such as housing providers, child care and mental health support.

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