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Biden’s New Policy Provides Potential Path to Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants Married to U.S. Citizens 

Biden’s New Policy Provides Potential Path to Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants Married to U.S. Citizens 

  • While the “parole in place” program could help 500,000 spouses and 50,000 children under 21, it could adversely affect the over 250,000 children of long-term visa holders.

The Biden-Harris administration has unveiled a new policy that would protect undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens from deportation, and provide them temporary legal status and a potential path to citizenship. The June 18 announcement marked the 12-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects people who came to the United States as children from deportation.  

The administration estimates the “parole in place” program will offer amnesty, and a path to legal permanent residency, to 500,000 spouses of U.S. citizens and 50,000 children under 21. It would allow undocumented immigrants who have American citizen spouses to receive temporary work permits and legal status without leaving the country. Until now, marrying an American citizen allowed immigrants to take up U.S. citizenship. However, for that they had to return to their home countries to complete the process for a green card. Now the new program will allow families to remain in the country while they pursue legal status.

There are roughly 1.1 million undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens in the United States, according to, an immigration advocacy group, but not all of them are eligible for the program. To be eligible, the individual should be married to a U.S. citizen, and must have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years as of June 17, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The White House says “the majority of people eligible for these protections have resided in the U.S. for 23 years or more.” 

The new measure comes two weeks after Biden announced a crackdown that suspended longtime guarantees that give anyone who steps onto U.S. soil the right to seek asylum here. 

The New York Times called the decision “one of the most significant actions to protect immigrants in years,” and noted that it comes as Biden “tries to strike a balance on one of the most dominant political issues in 2024.” According to Tikes report, it could “help the president “address some of the blowback that his asylum restrictions elicited among members of his progressive base, who have accused the White House of betraying campaign promises to enact a more humane approach to immigrants.” The report also cited the he American Business Immigration Coalition, which noted that the measure could also help Biden in “battleground swing states like Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, where more than 100,000 voters in each of those states live in mixed status households.”

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Meanwhile, the new benefits for undocumented spouses will not take effect immediately; senior Biden administration officials said they expected the program to launch by the end of the summer.

However, the decision could adversely affect the over 250,000 children of long-term visa holders, according to Improve The Dream. The youth-led organization that supports, empowers, and advocates for young immigrants, who have grown up in the United States as child dependents of visa holders, through engagement, education, resources, and research. 

In a statement, president Dip Patel said, thew June 18 actions” inadvertently increase the risk that individuals raised and educated in the United States with lawful status will be forced to self-deport.” He hoped the administration prioritizes urgent policy improvements proposed in a letter sent to there White House by a bipartisan group of lawmakers for both urgent action for protection and through permanent solutions in Congress. The letter urges for action to protect children of long-term visa holders and individuals with approved employment-based petitions who are stuck in the green card backlog.

Top photo: White House Facebook page.

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