Biden Weighs Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S.

Monday, June 10, 2024 by Abigail Marquez

Biden Weighs Legalizing Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S.
Joe Biden - Image by © CiberCuba

The administration of President Joe Biden is considering a proposal that could pave the way for the legalization of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the United States. According to CBS News, five individuals familiar with the initiative have reported that the White House would grant work permits and protection from deportation to certain unauthorized immigrants through immigration parole authority, provided they have spouses who are U.S. citizens.

The policy, known as “parole in place,” would allow beneficiaries to overcome obstacles in U.S. legislation, enabling them to apply for permanent residency and potentially even citizenship, the news portal noted. The sources indicated that the final details of the Biden administration's proposal have not been approved or finalized. However, they clarified that the initiative would likely benefit undocumented immigrants who have been residing in the U.S. for years, not recent arrivals.

Angelo Hernández Fernández, a White House spokesman, told CBS News that “they continue to explore a range of policy options and remain committed to taking steps to address the flaws in the immigration system.” This would be Biden’s latest ambitious measure to act unilaterally on immigration amid decades of congressional gridlock on the issue, the news site pointed out.

Furthermore, it noted that recently, “in the toughest policy enacted by a Democratic president,” Biden invoked his executive authority to ban asylum for most immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. The new measure, currently under consideration, would benefit a significant number of undocumented individuals, as it is estimated that 11 million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States, according to federal government and research group estimates. It is estimated that 1.1 million of them have U.S. citizen spouses, CBS News emphasized.

Some believe this initiative could encourage some voters to lean towards Biden in the upcoming November presidential elections. “Surveys conducted over the years have shown that Latino voters broadly support border security measures and programs to legalize unauthorized immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for years,” the cited portal indicated. However, it noted that if approved, “the plan would likely face legal challenges.”

In this regard, it pointed out that the Biden administration has already faced some lawsuits from Republican state officials over its use of parole authority. Nevertheless, the Biden administration has made unprecedented use of parole, invoking it to resettle hundreds of thousands of immigrants and refugees from Afghanistan, Latin America, Haiti, and Ukraine, CBS News considered. This new initiative would use the same authority and alleviate immigration issues for some people already in the United States.

The granting of parole would allow unauthorized immigrants married to U.S. citizens to obtain temporary work permits and legal status. “But perhaps most importantly, it would also allow some of them to overcome a rule in U.S. immigration law that prohibits immigrants from obtaining permanent legal status if they have not been officially admitted or paroled into the U.S.,” CBS News noted. In this sense, immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, for instance, often have to leave the country and re-enter legally to obtain a green card based on a U.S. citizen spouse's petition. But those immigrants may face years-long reentry bans, leading some to refrain from traveling abroad and pursuing that option.

According to CBS News: “Parole in place would give undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens the opportunity to become permanent residents in the U.S., if they meet other requirements, without having to leave the country.”

Understanding Biden's Immigration Proposal

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Biden administration's proposed immigration policy and its potential impacts.

What is "parole in place"?

"Parole in place" is a policy that allows certain unauthorized immigrants, particularly those with U.S. citizen spouses, to obtain temporary work permits and legal status without having to leave the United States.

Who would benefit from this new immigration proposal?

The proposal would likely benefit undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for many years and have U.S. citizen spouses. It would not apply to recent arrivals.

What challenges could this proposal face?

If approved, the proposal would likely face legal challenges, particularly from Republican state officials, who have previously sued the Biden administration over its use of parole authority.

How does this proposal compare to previous immigration policies?

This proposal is part of Biden's larger effort to address immigration issues unilaterally amid congressional gridlock. It follows his recent executive action to ban asylum for most immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has been described as one of the toughest policies enacted by a Democratic president.

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