Under Biden’s new plan, half a million immigrants could eventually become U.S. citizens

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden ordered a sweeping election-year effort Tuesday to offer potential citizenship to hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status in the U.S., aimed at offsetting his recent aggressive attacks on the southern border this enraged supporters and many Democratic lawmakers.

The president announced his administration in the coming months allow spouses of certain US citizens without legal status to apply for indefinite residence and ultimately citizenship without having to leave the country first. According to senior administration officials, the actions of Biden, a Democrat, could affect more than half a million immigrants.

“The Statue of Liberty is not some relic of American history. It still represents who we are,” Biden said from the crowded East Room of the White House, packed with supporters, congressional Democrats and immigrants who would be eligible for the program. “But I also don’t believe that in order for us to continue to be an America that accepts immigration, we have to give up securing our borders. These are false choices.”

Biden’s action, which marks the most sweeping federal protections for immigrants in more than a decade, creates a significant political contrast with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, whose hardline stance on immigration includes a push for mass deportations and rhetoric that portrays migrants as threatening, “blood poisoning” criminals. ” America.

On Tuesday, Biden accused “my predecessor” of preying on fears about immigrants, criticizing Trump administration moves such as a zero-tolerance policy on the southern border that led to the separation of families. Trump, however, leaned on his own policies as Biden faced disapproval of his approach to immigration throughout his presidency. At a rally in Racine, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, Trump declared: “When I am re-elected, Joe Biden’s illegal amnesty plan will be thwarted and thrown out the first day we are back in office.”

With the shadow of a second Trump administration hanging over Biden’s new policy, Tuesday’s actions mark the beginning of a months-long sprint by Latino organizations to get as many people into the program as possible before next January.

To qualify for Biden’s measures, an immigrant must have lived in the United States for 10 years and be married to a U.S. citizen, both as of Monday. If an eligible immigrant’s application is approved, he or she will have three years to apply for a green card and receive a short-lived work permit, and in the meantime be protected from deportation.

About 50,000 children of foreign nationals whose parents are married to a U.S. citizen could also potentially be eligible for the process, according to senior officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. There is no requirement on how long a couple must be married, but no one is eligible after Monday. That means immigrants who reach that 10-year mark after Monday will not be eligible for the program, according to officials.

Senior administration officials have said they expect the application process to open by the end of the summer. Application fees have not yet been set.

On Tuesday, Biden officially unveiled his plans event at the White Housewhich also marked the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a popular Obama-era directive that provided protection from deportation and short-lived work permits for youthful immigrants without legal status.

The announcement was welcome news for families with mixed immigration status like Antonio and Brenda Valle in Los Angeles. They have been married for almost 12 years and have two sons who are U.S. citizens, but every two years they lived in fear that Brenda Valle’s status as a DACA recipient would not be renewed.

“We can start planning more long-term, for the future, rather than focusing on what we can do in the next two years,” she said.

Foday Turay was among those invited to the White House on Tuesday for the announcement. He came to the United States from Sierra Leone at age 10 and is now the father of an infant son and the husband of a third-generation U.S. citizen. Although he has signed up for DACA and works as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, his status offers him no relief from the constant fear of deportation.

“My wife is very impressed with this,” Turay said Tuesday before the ceremony. “You know, she talks to me every day about what’s going to happen. What if I get deported? Do you know how we will raise our son? In what country will we raise him?”

Republicans contrasted sharply with Biden’s plan. In a likely preview of GOP campaign ads, Republican Richard Hudson, chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, called Biden’s policy a “mass amnesty plan.” Other Republicans, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, expected the courts to invalidate this latest directive.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican considered as Trump’s vice-presidential nominee, strongly supported legislation in 2012 to give youthful immigrants legal status, but on Tuesday he said “the world is a different place now” because immigration numbers have increased.

Tuesday’s announcement came two weeks later Biden outlined sweeping repressive measures at the U.S.-Mexico border, effectively halting asylum applications for people arriving between officially designated ports of entry. Immigrant rights groups sued the Biden administration on that directive, which a senior administration official said Monday has led to fewer border encounters between ports.

Biden’s allies believe the approach he will take this month in his twin actions on immigration will resonate with voters.

“The only party that takes border security seriously is the Democrats. The only party that is thoughtful and compassionate about what to do with people living in the shadows is the Democrats,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who helped craft the bipartisan border bill earlier this year. “The Republican Party has decided to address the issue of border security.”

Among supporters, Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, said Biden’s announcement would galvanize Latino communities to come out and support him.

“This is what our communities needed to come together for President Biden’s re-election,” he said.

Biden also announced new regulations that will allow this DACA beneficiaries and other youthful immigrants to make it easier for them to apply for long-standing work visas. It would provide eligible immigrants with more stalwart protections than the work permits offered by DACA, which is currently facing legal challenges and is no longer accepting new applications.

The authority Biden invokes in his Tuesday statement regarding spouses is nothing new. The policy would expand to powers used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to allow “conditional parole” for family members of military members, said Andrea Flores, a former policy adviser in the Obama and Biden administrations and now vice president of Na FWD.usimmigration support organization.

The parole process allows eligible immigrants to gain indefinite residence in the U.S. without having to leave the country, removing a common barrier for people without legal status but married to Americans. Flores called it “the biggest victory for the immigrant rights movement since DACA was announced 12 years ago.”

The same progressives who were furious with Biden’s asylum decision praised the president on Tuesday. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, praised Biden and said the actions would facilitate keep American families together.

“Many Americans would be shocked to hear that when a U.S. citizen marries an undocumented person, the spouse does not automatically qualify for citizenship,” she said. “Imagine that you love someone, marry them, and then still fear that you will be separated from them.”

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