Biden Immigration Move Affects 500K Spouses

Trump quickly criticizes move as 'mass amnesty'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2024 12:12 PM CDT
Biden Immigration Move Affects 500K Spouses
Migrants seeking asylum walk toward a staging area before being transported and processed, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, near Dulzura, Calif.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

President Biden unveiled changes to immigration law Tuesday that will shield an estimated 500,000 undocumented spouses from deportation. The move on behalf of migrants comes soon after Biden curtailed their ability to seek asylum, an illustration of how immigration is complicating this year's election. Coverage:

  • 550,000: Under the new rule, migrants who are married to a US citizen will get an easier pathway to citizenship themselves and be allowed to work legally in the US, reports Politico. Previously, such migrants could apply for a green card, but they had to leave the country for 10 years first. In addition to the 500,000 undocumented spouses, an estimated 50,000 of their children under age 21 would get the same advantage.
  • Eligibility: Only those who can prove they've been in the US for 10 years as Monday are eligible, and they must be legally wed, per Axios and the AP. There is no stipulation on how long they must have been married.

  • Big move: The New York Times calls it "one of the most expansive presidential actions to protect immigrants in more than a decade." Its announcement comes on the 12-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that protects migrants who came to the US as children from deportation. Under the new changes, Biden also is making it easier for undocumented young people, called Dreamers, to get work visas.
  • The politics: Biden angered members of his base with his previous move to restrict asylum, and this initiative is intended to shore up those supporters. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, Biden's team has "thought for months that, to avoid further angering immigration advocates and Latino voters with family members lacking a legal status, new border restrictions ought to be paired with a sweetener." While polls show many Americans are worried about the number of migrants entering the US, they also show that most people are OK with the spouses of US citizens getting an advantage.
  • Trump: Former president Donald Trump didn't waste much time criticizing the new plan, describing it as "mass amnesty" in a Truth Social post. His campaign spokeswoman echoed the point. "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," said Karoline Leavitt. If he wins in November, Trump could undo the measure.
(More President Biden stories.)

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