The Department of Homeland Security has just ruled that, because of application backlogs that it blames on the pandemic, it will automatically extend many employment authorization documents (EADs) for 540 days instead of the usual 180 days.
The press release was full of details and explanations, but it left out one key fact: The decision will cost taxpayers many scores of million dollars.
An EAD extension — which gives an otherwise illegal worker the legal right to work here and is thus very valuable to the alien involved — routinely costs $550. When the document is extended for 540 days, it is a gift the alien concerned of $550 — a screaming bargain for the alien.
And who pays when the aliens won’t? U.S. taxpayers do (as well as fee-paying aliens seeking other documents.)
Needless to say the government did not mention that factor, nor did it provide an estimate of the number of foregone EAD fees, but it must be in the hundreds of thousands. When you multiply 100,000 by $550, you get $55 million and when you use 200,000 it gets to be $110 million.