Biden will unveil protections for some undocumented spouses and easier DACA work visas

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Tuesday will announce deportation protections for long-term undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens, as well as faster work permit approvals for people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

President Joe Biden will make the official announcement during an afternoon event at the White House marking the 12th anniversary of the DACA program. The initiative was launched during the Obama administration and was intended to temporarily protect undocumented children brought to the United States without authorization.

Senior administration officials outlined the fresh rules to reporters tardy Monday.

The fresh DACA policy will allow people who graduated from an accredited university and have an offer from a US employer for a high-skilled job to quickly qualify for one of the existing short-lived work visas, such as the H-1B visa.

The fresh rules came into force two weeks later Biden has launched his toughest crackdown on immigration yet with a partial ban on asylum proceedings at the southern border. Immigration remains a the most critical issue for voters and Biden’s Republican Party rival, former President Donald Trump.

Democrats and immigration advocates have long pressed the Biden administration instill indefinite protection too almost 579,000 DACA recipients pending a decision by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that could find the program unlawful. There is a legal dispute will probably go to the Supreme Court.

Many immigration policy experts have deemed the DACA program obsolete because there are currently thousands of undocumented people who are ineligible for the program because they were not yet born. To qualify, an undocumented person must have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007.

Biden insisted on taking action

Americans with undocumented spouses expressed their frustration and urged the Biden administration to take executive action to provide relief to the more than 1.1 million Americans who fear their undocumented spouses are at risk of deportation.

The deportation protection for people married to a U.S. citizen is a one-time measure intended to allow approximately 500,000 non-U.S. citizen spouses and their children to apply for lawful indefinite residence – a green card – under certain conditions.

To qualify, a non-US citizen must have lived in the US for 10 years as of Monday, June 17, 2024, and must also have been married to a US citizen as of that date. This non-citizen spouse cannot be considered a security threat either.

The Department of Homeland Security will review those applications, which are expected to open by the end of the summer, on a case-by-case basis, a senior administration official said.

The move is also expected to affect approximately 50,000 children who are not U.S. citizens and have an immigrant parent married to a U.S. citizen.

For these children to be eligible, they must be at least 21 years ancient, unmarried, “and the marriage between the parents must occur before the child turns 18,” said a senior administration official.

Under current U.S. immigration law, if a foreign national enters the country without authorization, he or she will have no indefinite legal status and will have to leave the U.S. and re-enter legally through a green card application submitted by his or her U.S. spouse, a lengthy process that may take years.

“The challenges and uncertainty associated with this process prevent many eligible spouses from applying for permanent residence,” a senior administration official said.

App information is coming

More information about the application and eligibility process will be published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, a senior administration official said.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees the legal immigration system, takes a similar approach program which allows foreign nationals who are immediate family members of U.S. military service members to obtain a green card without having to leave the country.

“This announcement leverages existing authorities to keep families together,” a senior administration official said. “But… only Congress can fix our broken immigration system.”

Any immigration reform by Congress is unlikely because Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate. AND a bipartisan agreement on border security fell apart earlier this year. There was no path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries or long-term immigrants under this agreement.

The closest Congress came to achieving bipartisan immigration reform was in 2013, when the “Gang of Eight,” made up of four Republican senators and four Democratic senators, crafted a bill that would have made citizenship possible for millions of undocumented people.

It was passed by the Senate, but House Speaker John Boehner never brought the bill to a vote.

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