New Biden Policy Provides Legal Protections for Undocumented Spouses of U.S. Citizens

President Biden announced immigration policy that includes path to citizenship for undocumented spouses and graduates

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Photo: Unsplash/Mike Guziuk

The undocumented community has fought time and time again for their rights and a pathway to citizenship in the United States. As of 2021, there are 10.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., making up 3 percent of the total U.S. population. Despite representing a significant portion of the population, the rights of undocumented immigrants are constantly being left up to debate and threatened by various policies. However, there are new immigration measures that come about for the betterment of the undocumented community. We’ve seen these kinds of measure with the recent change to immigration reform policy through the expansion of health coverage for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, providing them with insurance coverage. Recently, President Joe Biden announced a new executive order to protect over 500,000 immigrants from deportation by creating a path to citizenship for those married to citizens. Known as “parole in place (PIP),” once in this program they’ll receive the I-94 travel record which makes them eligible to adjust their status to a marriage-based green card.

The policy, if upheld by the court, could become the largest government program for undocumented immigrants since the DACA program. To be eligible, one must have resided in the United States for at least a decade and be legally married to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024. In order to keep families together, this new policy allows the spouses of U.S. citizens and non-citizen children to request permanent legal residency while staying in the country, speeds up the legal residence request process from five years to six months and includes a path for undocumented graduates. The measures presented by President Biden also include one that allows DACA recipients and Dreamers—who have earned a degree at an institution in the United States, and have received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer in a field related to their area of study—to receive their work visas more quickly.

A number of government officials have responded to the news of these immigration relief measures from the Biden Administration, including Mexican American, Congressman Joaquin Castro who released a statement: 

“For too long, mixed-status families have been forced to live in the shadows – worried that a traffic stop or an emergency-room visit could trigger the deportation that tears their family apart. Today’s historic announcement will make it possible for hundreds of thousands of parents to drive their kids to school, get a job that pays a living wage, and participate fully in American society. Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform, but this is a compassionate step forward. I look forward to working with the Biden administration to help families access this relief.”

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