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Biden Announces New Plan To Keep Families Together Via Path To Citizenship For Undocumented Spouses

Source: The Associated Press

President Biden issued an executive order in June that would allow the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens to apply for permanent residency and eventual citizenship without having to first depart the country. The action could help around half a million undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens, and around 50,000 undocumented children whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen.

The action is the most expansive federal protection for immigrants in over a decade and will help promote family unity, ensuring that U.S. citizens and their undocumented family members can stay together.

To qualify for Biden’s actions, an undocumented immigrant must have lived in the United States for at least 10 years and be married to a U.S. citizen, both as of June 17. If they qualify, immigrants have to apply for this process and get approved, after which they will receive a temporary work permit and be shielded from deportation, and they then have three years to apply for permanent residency. Once approved for permanent residency, it generally takes another three years before one can apply for citizenship

“Many Americans would be shocked to hear that when a U.S. citizen marries an undocumented person, their spouse is not automatically eligible for citizenship,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said. ”Imagine loving someone, marrying them, and then still continuing to fear you would be separated from them.”

That’s exactly the scenario for Los Angeles couple Antonio and Brenda Valle. Despite being married for nearly 12 years and having two sons who are U.S. citizens, they have lived with the worry that Brenda Valle’s status as a DACA recipient will not be renewed every two years.

“We can start planning more long-term, for the future, instead of what we can do for the next two years,” Brenda Valle said.

Biden’s plan underscores the president’s stark contrast with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on immigration. Trump has pushed for mass deportations and cast migrants as dangerous criminals “poisoning the blood” of America.

With the threat of a second Trump administration looming, immigrant advocacy organizations are trying to get as many people to apply for the new program as possible before next January.
Senior administration officials said they anticipate the process will be open for applications by the end of the summer. Fees to apply have yet to be determined.

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