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18 July, 2024
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FT: Biden eases path to citizenship for 500,000 undocumented spouses

Move marks significant immigration reform, allowing immediate work permits and step towards citizenship


President Joe Biden is set to announce a major reform to U.S. immigration policy, offering up to 500,000 undocumented spouses of American citizens an easier path to legal status and U.S. citizenship. This move would remove the threat of deportation for these individuals, marking the most significant immigration reform in years.

According to sources briefed on the matter, Biden’s announcement is expected on Tuesday. The reform would allow undocumented spouses to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the country, granting them immediate work permission and initiating the process for obtaining a green card and citizenship.

This executive action is considered the most extensive U.S. immigration reform since former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, which protected from deportation those brought to the country as children.

Biden’s initiative comes as he seeks to appease the progressive wing of the Democratic Party while countering attacks from his 2024 presidential election rival, Donald Trump, over rising immigration at the southern border. The announcement follows Biden’s recent crackdown on illegal immigration from Mexico, which limits asylum requests from those who cross unlawfully and enables expedited deportation.

The surge in illegal border crossings during Biden’s presidency has become a significant political challenge, prompting him to take action. However, this crackdown risks alienating some progressive voters who are also critical of U.S. support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, among other issues.

Democratic lawmaker Henry Cuellar from Texas expressed support on social media, stating that the executive actions would help keep American families united and strengthen the economy. Cuellar emphasized the need for bipartisan solutions to broader immigration issues, including border security.

Conversely, Trump adviser Stephen Miller criticized the announcement, calling it “unconstitutional amnesty to illegal aliens during a border invasion.”

Under current U.S. law, many non-citizen spouses must apply for a green card from abroad, deterring some eligible individuals due to fear of leaving their families. To qualify for the new program, undocumented spouses must have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade as of June 17.

Cyprus  |  USA  |  immigration

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