Biden administration is considering protecting undocumented immigrants who are married to citizens

Last week, Biden signed an executive action that will allow the border to be shut down if migration numbers exceed a certain threshold.

June 10, 2024, 4:05 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is considering a plan to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants who are the spouses of U.S. citizens and give them access to work permits, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The sources stressed that the proposal was not final and the timing was fluid. The program, known as “parole in place,” would also make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to get a green card and a path to U.S. citizenship. One of the sources said lawmakers on Capitol Hill had been briefed on the proposal.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on details.

“As we have said before, the administration continues to explore a series of policy options and we remain committed to taking action to address our broken immigration system,” the spokesperson said.

The discussions come after immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers urged the administration to prioritize long-term undocumented immigrants and also as President Joe Biden tries to court Latino voters in crucial battleground states such as Nevada and Arizona. 

Last week, during remarks at the White House, Biden announced an executive action to tighten asylum restrictions outside legal ports of entry. Under the new policy, anytime the seven-day average of illegal border crossings tops 2,500, migrants entering the U.S. between legal ports of entry — with some exceptions — will be banned from claiming asylum and deported, though there are mounting questions about how the action will work without new congressional funding.

Biden also teased more immigration-related moves. 


“In the weeks ahead, I’ll speak to how we can make our immigration system more fair and more just,” he said. “Let’s fix the problem and stop fighting about it.”

If adopted, protections for undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens could be the federal government’s largest immigration-related relief program since 2012, when then-President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. It allowed immigrants who illegally came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country. 

The Biden administration has been facing criticism from all sides over immigration. Republicans have argued his asylum restrictions are too little, too late. Some Democrats have blasted the move as a betrayal of Biden’s 2020 campaign promise to enact more humane policies at the border.

The number of undocumented migrants crossing the southern border reached nearly 10 million during the Biden administration. Earlier this year, congressional Republicans — at Donald Trump’s urging — blocked a sweeping bipartisan border security bill that the White House said would have eased the crisis. GOP House members, including Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said the bill didn’t go far enough.

“Our colleagues across the aisle have failed to act,” Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., said last week while visiting the White House. “We would have liked to have seen a lot of other things that I believe the president is going to be acting on in the near future.”

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