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Biden Offers Pathway to Citizenship for 500,000 Undocumented Immigrants

-Editorial

The Biden administration announced a new policy that will provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly half a million immigrants married to American citizens and their children who currently lack legal status. This initiative is one of President Joe Biden’s most comprehensive immigration policies and comes in response to extensive lobbying from migrant advocates.

Biden called on Congress to secure the border and address the broken immigration system. Despite Congressional Republicans twice voting against significant reform measures, the President and his Administration took various actions to secure the border. 

“My Administration is acting to streamline the process for obtaining legal status for immigrants married to U.S. citizens who have lived here for a decade or longer. Now, they can file their paperwork in the U.S. and work while they wait. This is about keeping families together,” President Biden stated.

These actions included implementing executive measures to bar migrants crossing the Southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum during periods of high encounters, deploying a record number of law enforcement personnel, infrastructure, and technology to the Southern border, seizing unprecedented amounts of fentanyl at ports of entry, revoking visas of CEOs and government officials outside the U.S. profiting from unlawful migration, and expanding efforts to dismantle human smuggling networks and prosecute violators of immigration laws.

Biden underscored the importance of securing the border while expanding lawful pathways and keeping families together. He emphasized that immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades paid taxes, and contributed to their communities are integral to the nation’s social fabric. The immigration reform plan he sent to Congress reflected the need for a secure border and protections for long-term undocumented residents. While Congress failed to act on these reforms, the Biden-Harris Administration worked to strengthen the lawful immigration system. This included defending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy, extending Affordable Care Act coverage to DACA recipients, and streamlining and expanding reunification programs to keep families together during the immigration process.

To further support American families and young people educated in the country, Biden announced new actions to help those who have been in the United States for many years. These measures aim to keep families together and allow more young people to contribute to the economy.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was directed to ensure that U.S. citizens with noncitizen spouses and children could keep their families together. The new process would help certain noncitizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence without leaving the country, promoting family unity and strengthening the economy. Noncitizens eligible for this process must have resided in the United States for ten or more years as of June 17, 2024, be legally married to a U.S. citizen, and meet all applicable legal requirements. Eligible individuals would be afforded three years to apply for permanent residency and would be eligible for work authorization during this period. This action was expected to protect approximately half a million spouses of U.S. citizens and around 50,000 noncitizen children under 21 with a U.S. citizen parent.

Additionally, measures were announced to ease the visa process for U.S. college graduates, including Dreamers. These measures built on the DACA policy established by President Obama and then-Vice President Biden. The new actions would allow individuals, including DACA recipients and other Dreamers, who earned a degree from an accredited U.S. institution and received a job offer in a field related to their degree, to quickly receive work visas. The Administration recognized the national interest in ensuring that educated individuals could use their skills to benefit the country and took steps to facilitate the employment visa process for those with a high-skilled job offer.

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