Biden Announces Program to Give Half Million Immigrants Legal Status

04:37 June 18, 2024

Biden Announces Program to Give Half Million Immigrants Legal Status

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a program to offer a path to citizenship to hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status in the United States.

Administration officials said the program will be open to an estimated 500,000 immigrants. To qualify, an immigrant must have lived in the United States for 10 years as of June 17. He or she must be married to a U.S. citizen. There is no requirement on how long the couple must have been married. People who reach the 10-year mark after June 17 are not eligible.

About 50,000 children under age 21 with a parent who is a U.S. citizen will also be eligible. The majority of the people who would be eligible are Mexicans, officials added.

If a qualifying immigrant’s application is approved, he or she would have three years to apply for permanent residency, receive a temporary work permit, and be protected from deportation.

The program will let spouses and children apply for permanent residence without leaving the U.S., avoiding a possibly lengthy process and family separation. They could apply for U.S. citizenship after a period.

Administration officials said they expect the process will accept applications by the end of the summer.

Biden spoke about his plans at a White House event to mark the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

The DACA program was established under then-President Barack Obama. It offered protection from deportation and temporary work permits for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Former President Donald Trump ended the program in 2017. Biden’s order to restart the program has faced several legal actions.

Biden also announced new rules that will permit some people admitted under DACA and other young immigrants to receive work visas faster. Those eligible included people who have earned higher education degrees in the U.S. and who have received job offers from American employers in a field related to their training.

Andrea Flores is a former policy adviser in the Obama and Biden administrations. She is now a vice president at, an organization that supports immigration. Flores said Tuesday’s announcement for spouses expanded on power used by presidents George W. Bush and Obama to permit “parole in place” for family of military members.

The parole-in-place process lets qualifying immigrants get on the path to U.S. permanent residency without leaving the country. It affected people who were married to Americans but who were not U.S. citizens. Flores said it “fulfills President Biden’s…promise to protect undocumented immigrants and their American families.”

Karoline Leavitt is a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. She called Biden's new program "amnesty" and said in a statement that Trump would "restore the rule of law" if reelected.

Tuesday’s announcement comes two weeks after Biden announced a new policy at the U.S.-Mexico border to halt asylum claims for those who do not arrive at official ports of entry.

Immigrant rights groups have taken legal action against the Biden administration over that policy. An administration official said Monday that the policy had led to fewer detentions and arrests at the border.

I’m Jill Robbins.

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