Exclusive: Biden expected to announce protections for certain undocumented immigrants

Exclusive: Biden expected to announce protections for certain undocumented immigrants

Updated on Jun 14, 2024 2:22 PM EDT — Published on Jun 13, 2024 1:44 PM EDT

President Joe Biden is expected to announce a new executive action as early as next week that would shield certain undocumented immigrants living in the United States from deportation, according to five sources familiar with the White House’s plans.

The action is expected to protect undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens from deportation and allow them to work legally in the country. The program could also provide a more streamlined pathway to U.S. citizenship.

Biden is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, according to multiple sources, at a planned White House event marking the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded more than 800,000 children brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

A White House official said no final decisions have been made on what additional executive actions might be taken. White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández added that the administration “continues to explore a series of policy options and we remain committed to taking action to address our broken immigration system.”

If implemented, it’s unclear how many undocumented spouses would receive protections, but some lawmakers and immigration advocates have estimated it could affect up to 1.1 million people. But sources with knowledge of the White House’s plans told PBS News Hour they expect the scope of such protections to be much narrower.

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The White House has been reviewing a program known as “parole in place” that would allow people to adjust their status without having to leave the country, making it possible for them to receive a work permit and a green card.

The protections for undocumented spouses could come roughly two weeks after Biden issued a separate executive action to temporarily ban asylum-seekers from entering the country between ports of entry.

The president himself hinted at such an action last week when announcing the crackdown on asylum.

“For those who say the steps I’ve taken are too strict, I say to you … be patient,” Biden said. “In the weeks ahead — and I mean the weeks ahead — I will speak to how we can make our immigration system more fair and more just.”

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The president’s move to crack down on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border received harsh criticism from immigration advocates and a number of Latino lawmakers in Congress. On Wednesday, immigrant rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Biden administration over the asylum order.

Still, less than five months out from the election, Biden has moved rapidly in recent weeks to implement tougher enforcement on the border. But this expected new action to protect undocumented spouses could also provide the president a political boost with Latino voters and his base.

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and immigrant advocacy groups have requested for months that the White House act on work permits and deportation protections for undocumented people married to U.S. citizens. In recent meetings with Biden, White House officials and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, lawmakers have pushed the issue, receiving positive signals in return, multiple sources involved in the meetings told the PBS News Hour.

Latino lawmakers and immigrant advocates have also encouraged the White House to consider similar protections and work permits for undocumented caregivers and farm workers living in the U.S.

Democrats have been eager to point out that such an executive action could help their party on the campaign trail as they work to shore up Latino voters in the battlegrounds of Arizona and Nevada.

PBS News Hour first reported that the White House was considering protections for undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens last week.

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