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500k Immigrants Could Get Citizenship  06/18 06:09

   President Joe Biden is taking an expansive, election-year step to offer 
relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status 
in the U.S. -- aiming to balance his own aggressive crackdown on the border 
earlier this month that enraged advocates and many Democratic lawmakers.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden is taking an expansive, election-year 
step to offer relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants without 
legal status in the U.S. -- aiming to balance his own aggressive crackdown on 
the border earlier this month that enraged advocates and many Democratic 
lawmakers.

   The White House announced Tuesday that the Biden administration will, in the 
coming months, allow certain spouses of U.S. citizens without legal status to 
apply for permanent residency and eventually, citizenship. The move could 
affect upwards of half a million immigrants, according to senior administration 
officials.

   To qualify, an immigrant must have lived in the United States for 10 years 
as of Monday and be married to a U.S. citizen. If a qualifying immigrant's 
application is approved, he or she would have three years to apply for a green 
card, and receive a temporary work permit and be shielded from deportation in 
the meantime.

   About 50,000 noncitizen children with a parent who is married to a U.S. 
citizen could also potentially qualify for the same process, according to 
senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the proposal on 
condition of anonymity. There is no requirement on how long the couple must 
have been married, and no one becomes eligible after Monday. That means 
immigrants who reach that 10 year mark any time after June 17, 2024, will not 
qualify for the program, according to the officials.

   Senior administration officials said they anticipate the process will be 
open for applications by the end of the summer, and fees to apply have yet to 
be determined.

   Biden will speak about his plans at a Tuesday afternoon event at the White 
House, which will also mark the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for 
Childhood Arrivals program, a popular Obama-era directive that offered 
deportation protections and temporary work permits for young immigrants who 
lack legal status.

   White House officials privately encouraged Democrats in the House, which is 
in recess this week, to travel back to Washington to attend the announcement.

   The president will also announce new regulations that will allow certain 
DACA beneficiaries and other young immigrants to more easily qualify for 
long-established work visas. That would allow qualifying immigrants to have 
protection that is sturdier than the work permits offered by DACA, which is 
currently facing legal challenges and is no longer taking new applications.

   The power that Biden is invoking with his Tuesday announcement for spouses 
is not a novel one. The policy would expand on authority used by presidents 
George W. Bush and Barack Obama to allow "parole in place" for family members 
of military members, said Andrea Flores, a former policy adviser in the Obama 
and Biden administrations who is now a vice president at FWD.us, an immigration 
advocacy organization.

   The parole-in-place process allows qualifying immigrants to get on the path 
to U.S. permanent residency without leaving the country, removing a common 
barrier for those without legal status but married to Americans. Flores said it 
"fulfills President Biden's day one promise to protect undocumented immigrants 
and their American families."

   Tuesday's announcement comes two weeks after Biden unveiled a sweeping 
crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border that effectively halted asylum claims for 
those arriving between officially designated ports of entry. Immigrant-rights 
groups have sued the Biden administration over that directive, which a senior 
administration official said Monday had led to fewer border encounters between 
ports.

 
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