Biden announces new policy shielding undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens from deportation; Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group Chair of Immigration law, comments on the ‘relief’ for families

Photo via White House press office

By Gabe Gutierrez, Julie Tsirkin and Julia Ainsley | NBC News

President Joe Biden is taking executive action to protect undocumented spouses of American citizens — a move that would shield about 500,000 immigrants from deportation.

The White House announced the election-year policy Tuesday, framing it as “new action to keep families together.” NBC News reported last week that action protecting the spouses was likely to be announced soon, after urging from immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers and as the president courts Latino voters in crucial battleground states.

The new policy would allow noncitizens who have been in the country for at least 10 years and are married to a U.S. citizen, and their children, to apply for permanent residence without leaving the country.


The Rundown by Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group Chair of Immigration Law:

“This proposed executive order on immigration from the Biden administration would be welcome relief for more than half a million undocumented spouses and children of US citizens currently residing in the United States. The order would amount to the biggest immigration relief program offered by the Federal government since the Obama-era DACA program which granted work permits and temporary relief from deportation to more than 500,000 undocumented persons who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age.’

‘Under current federal immigration policy, a spouse or child who enters the United States without permission and then seeks to obtain lawful status either has to be paroled into the country, or apply for a pardon and depart the country which can take upwards of ten years in many case, separating families and creating undue burdens on millions in the process.’

‘This proposal would only affect undocumented spouses and children who have been in the United States for a minimum of ten years, cutting against any argument that this proposal is encouraging more “illegal” immigration. Rather, this is squarely about family unity and equity for mixed status families looking to legalize and eventually become US citizens. Barring any legal challenges or setbacks, the Biden administration is expecting to unveil the program later this summer.”

More from The White House:

Keeping American Families Together

  • Today, President Biden is announcing that the Department of Homeland Security will take action to ensure that U.S. citizens with noncitizen spouses and children can keep their families together.
  • This new process will help certain noncitizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence – status that they are already eligible for – without leaving the country.
  • These actions will promote family unity and strengthen our economy, providing a significant benefit to the country and helping U.S. citizens and their noncitizen family members stay together.
  • In order to be eligible, noncitizens must – as of June 17, 2024 – have resided in the United States for 10 or more years and be legally married to a U.S. citizen, while satisfying all applicable legal requirements. On average, those who are eligible for this process have resided in the U.S. for 23 years.
  • Those who are approved after DHS’s case-by-case assessment of their application will be afforded a three-year period to apply for permanent residency. They will be allowed to remain with their families in the United States and be eligible for work authorization for up to three years. This will apply to all married couples who are eligible.  
  • This action will protect approximately half a million spouses of U.S. citizens, and approximately 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen.

Easing the Visa Process for U.S. College Graduates, Including Dreamers

  • President Obama and then-Vice President Biden established the DACA policy to allow young people who were brought here as children to come out of the shadows and contribute to our country in significant ways. Twelve years later, DACA recipients who started as high school and college students are now building successful careers and establishing families of their own.
  • Today’s announcement will allow individuals,
    including DACA recipients and other Dreamers, who have earned a degree at an accredited U.S. institution of higher education in the United States, and who have received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer in a field related to their degree, to more quickly receive work visas.
  • Recognizing that it is in our national interest to ensure that individuals who are educated in the U.S. are able to use their skills and education to benefit our country, the Administration is taking action to facilitate the employment visa process for those who have graduated from college and have a high-skilled job offer, including DACA recipients and other Dreamers. 
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June 2024