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Biden announces new immigration moves

By MINGMEI LI in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-19 09:03

.S President Joe Biden announces a new effort to allow immigrants in the US illegally to obtain legal status if they are married to US citizens, coinciding with the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, at the White House in Washington, US, June 18, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

US President Joe Biden announced two new immigration policy initiatives on Tuesday as part of election-year actions to offer relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants residing in the country.

The first action will provide legal status and protections for about 500,000 American families and roughly 50,000 noncitizen children of immigrants under the age of 21 who have a parent married to a US citizen, a senior administration official said.

It is one of the federal government's biggest relief programs for undocumented immigrants since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.

The two executive actions are also aimed at balancing Biden's "own aggressive crackdown on the Southern border" earlier in June, which enraged advocates and many Democratic lawmakers, The Associated Press reported.

Biden said Tuesday that the moves would help the US immigration system become less "unfair" and "unjust" for the benefit of immigrants, married couples and all Americans.

The second action aims to make it easier for some immigrants who are college graduates, including those in the DACA program, to get work visas.

The first initiative is called "Parole in Place" and permits certain spouses of American citizens who lack legal status to apply for permanent residency and eventually US citizenship. To qualify, immigrants must have lived in the United States for at least 10 years as of Monday and be married to a US citizen.

If an individual's application under the new program is approved, the applicant will have three years to apply for a green card and will receive a temporary work permit, protecting the person from deportation in the meantime. Senior officials stated that the application process will open by the end of this summer, although specific details haven't yet been released.

The initiative follows a measure by Biden aimed at limiting entry at the US-Mexico border, where daily crossings have averaged more than 4,000, according to Homeland Security officials.

Biden signed that executive action to halt the entry of immigrants who cross the southern border illegally in early June. It goes into effect when the number of people apprehended reaches a daily average of 2,500 encounters or more for seven straight days.

Biden announced the new moves at a White House event on Tuesday that marked the 12th anniversary of the DACA program, an Obama-era directive that provided deportation protections and temporary work permits for young immigrants without legal status. Recipients of DACA have been referred to as "Dreamers".

Poll data indicates that immigration is a major concern for US voters for the November presidential election.

The president's aides believe the two new moves will strengthen his position on a challenging political issue, citing DACA as a precedent during Obama's election period, which they said faced no backlash from moderates, white voters or swing voters, but boosted Latino voter support, a demographic Biden also aims to energize.

Republicans have challenged DACA since its inception, and then-President Donald Trump tried to end the program. He was able to shrink its beneficiaries by prohibiting filing of new applications. The number of immigrants who don't qualify for DACA now outnumber those who do because of the program's rules.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and his campaign have criticized Biden's policies on illegal immigration and have pledged to deport millions if he is reelected. His campaign has accused the incumbent president of creating "another invitation for illegal immigration".

"Biden only cares about one thing — power — and that's why he is giving mass amnesty and citizenship to hundreds of thousands of illegals who he knows will ultimately vote for him and the Open Border Democrat Party," Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said.

US Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has in the past advocated for a pathway to citizenship for those without legal status in the US, but on Tuesday, he called Biden's policy a "disaster".

"I just think it's making every problem worse," Graham said.

Agencies contributed to this story.


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