Biden Announces New Policy To Protect Undocumented Spouses Of U.S. Citizens

President Biden Delivers Remarks On New Border Policy

Photo: Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images News / Getty Images

President Joe Biden announced a new policy on Tuesday (June 17) that could grant lawful permanent residency to hundreds of thousands of undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens. The policy, known as the "parole in place" program, is estimated to offer amnesty and a path to legal permanent residency to 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens and 50,000 children under 21.

Previously, many of these individuals were required to leave the country and wait for their applications to be processed abroad, often resulting in a prolonged period of separation from their families. The new program will clear barriers to apply for citizenship by allowing eligible applicants to obtain a green card without leaving the U.S. and risking the threat they could be banned from re-entering for living in the country illegally.

Eligible applicants must have lived in the U.S. for 10 or more years and have been legally married to a U.S. citizen as of Monday. Qualifying participants would be allowed to live and work in the U.S. for a three-year period while they apply for permanent residency. The Department of Homeland Security will review applications on a case-by-case basis, including an assessment of potential threats to public safety or national security.

The initiative will also speed up the work visa application process for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Dreamers, and other immigrants without full legal status who have earned a college degree in the U.S. and received a U.S. job offer related to their degree.

The policy has been met with criticism from some quarters, with opponents arguing that it could lead to a surge in migrant crime and overwhelm public services. However, the Biden administration maintains that the policy is in the country's interest, keeping American families together while ensuring anyone known to pose a threat to public safety cannot take part in the immigration system.

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