Green stickers indicate the row and place number of cots inside the dormitory tent during a media tour of a shelter New York City is setting up to house up to 1,000 migrants in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. On Thursday, Aug. 24, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul implored President Joe Biden to take urgent action to help her state absorb a surge of international migrants who have strained resources and filled homeless shelters — putting some Democrats in a vulnerable position in a state usually seen as immigrant-friendly. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

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New York officials think the federal government  needs to do more to address the strain on public services created by an influx of asylum seekers, and allow these new arrivals to work faster. The federal government thinks New York officials  need to improve some of the ways they are managing an influx, which has brought over 100,000 asylum seekers to New York City over the past year.

We think they’re both right in some cases. But we also think that finger pointing and deflection isn’t going to improve this situation, neither for people seeking refuge in America or for the communities they are joining. What everyone involved needs and deserves is action, at all levels of government.

First and foremost, this needs to come from Congress. A comprehensive overhaul of America’s immigration system, including its process for asylum seekers, is clearly needed to meet the realities of today. This is both long overdue and unlikely to happen soon based on a host of political roadblocks and complications.

What should not be complicated, however, is passing legislation proposed by Maine federal lawmakers across the political spectrum that would allow asylum seekers to work faster. This straightforward concept would have the dual impact of allowing asylum seekers to support themselves sooner rather than depending on public and charitable assistance, while also growing the ranks of potential workers amid workforce challenges for businesses. It’s a rare opportunity for a win-win. Even in a closely, and sometimes fiercely divided Congress, it should be an easy decision.

“For me, the answer to these two crises — a humanitarian crisis and our workforce crisis — is so crystal clear and common sense. Let them get the work authorizations; let them work; legally, let them work,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said last week, as reported by Politico.

Letting asylum seekers work faster isn’t the only answer, but it is part of the answer.

New York officials — similar to those in Maine — have also pressed the Biden administration to expedite the work authorization, though the administration has said changes need to come from Congress.

To state the obvious, New York City is not Portland, Maine. But the situation in New York, and the back and forth between state and federal officials, is not totally dissimilar from the challenges being experienced in Maine right now. The numbers are much larger in New York, but the twin needs of allowing asylum seekers to provide for themselves and helping businesses address workforce challenges are shared across state lines. Maine leaders, not unlike their New York counterparts, have asked the federal government for flexibility in allowing these new arrivals to work faster (a request with broad bipartisan support, we’d add).

Maine’s request, while worthwhile, is for a waiver and a process that does not exist in federal law. That essentially makes it a messaging vehicle. Like the calls in New York to let asylum seekers work faster, it is a good message. Above all, Congress needs to hear and act on this message as federal lawmakers return from an August recess with much to do.

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Opinion Editor Susan Young, Deputy Opinion Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked for the BDN...