Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under new plan from Biden

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden takes a major step in this election year to provide aid to potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status in the US – with the aim of restoring its balance own aggressive action against the border That angered advocates and many Democratic lawmakers earlier this month.

The White House announced on Tuesday that the Biden administration in the coming months allow certain spouses of U.S. citizens without legal status to apply for permanent residency and ultimately citizenship. According to senior government officials, this move could affect well over half a million immigrants.

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

About 50,000 children of noncitizens with a parent married to a U.S. citizen could also be eligible for the same process, according to senior administration officials who told reporters about the proposal on condition of anonymity. There is no requirement on how long the couple must have been married, and after Monday no one will be eligible. That means immigrants who reach the 10-year mark anytime after June 17, 2024 will not be eligible for the program, according to officials.

Senior administration officials said they expect the process to be open for applications by the end of the summer, and the fees to be applied for have yet to be determined.

Biden will speak about his plans at a meeting Tuesday afternoon event at the White Housewhich will also mark the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a popular Obama-era directive that provided deportation protection and temporary work permits to young immigrants without legal status.

White House officials privately encouraged Democrats in the House of Representatives, which is in recess this week, to travel back to Washington to attend the announcement.

The President will also announce new regulations that will make it easier for certain DACA beneficiaries and other young immigrants to qualify for long-standing work visas. That would ensure that eligible immigrants can receive protections that are more robust than the work permits offered by DACA, which is currently facing legal challenges and is no longer accepting new applications.

The power Biden invokes with his Tuesday announcement for spouses is not new. The policy would expand on the authority used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to allow “parole” for family members of military members, said Andrea Flores, a former policy adviser in the Obama and Biden administrations and now vice president. at FWD.us, an immigration advocacy organization.

The parole process allows eligible immigrants to enter the path to permanent residency in the U.S. without leaving the country, removing a common barrier for people without legal status but married to Americans. Flores said it “fulfills President Biden’s day one promise to protect undocumented immigrants and their American families.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes two weeks later Biden unveiled a sweeping crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border, effectively halting asylum applications for those arriving between officially designated ports of entry. Immigrant rights groups have sued the Biden administration on that directive, which a senior government official said on Monday had led to fewer border conflicts between ports.


Associated Press writer Stephen Groves contributed to this report.