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Biden Announces Immigration Relief for Thousands of Undocumented Immigrants

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients will receive immigration relief with a new package of measures from the Biden administration, which plans to grant "parole in place" to the spouses of American citizens and facilitate pathways for Dreamers to obtain permanent residency.

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Biden's plan proposes to ease the path for more than half a million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The Biden administration will allow certain undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens and who have lived in the United States for more than ten years to remain in the country and work legally, expanding a program currently used to provide documents to immediate family members of military service members.

The Tuesday morning announcement coincides with the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Biden will celebrate at the White House with immigrant advocates and Latino leaders.

This announcement can be seen as an expansion of the "parole in place" program, which will now also benefit undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens who have lived in the country for over ten years. Typically, these individuals had to leave the country and endure long processes far from their families to adjust their status. They also faced the risk of penalties that could prevent their reentry due to their illegal crossing.

With this new proposal, immigrants married to U.S. citizens or who are adoptive children of U.S. citizens can request a case-by-case assessment of their parole application. Those who are approved will have a three-year period to apply for residency. While awaiting a decision, they will have work permits and protection from deportation.

DACA beneficiaries are also included in this new package of measures. Those who are university graduates and qualify will receive a waiver if they apply for employment visas. Beneficiaries will not receive new privileges, but existing pathways to regularize their immigration status will be simplified under the new rules.

Without parole, applicants who decided to leave the country to apply for permanent residency from abroad could be subject to mandatory waits of three or ten years, in addition to an already uncertain resolution.

To be eligible, potential parole beneficiaries must have been in the United States for ten years as of Monday. Depending on individual cases, many of these individuals will be ineligible for the new program, as will other long-term immigrants in the country illegally who are not married to U.S. citizens.

Approved applicants will have three years to apply for permanent residency and, in the meantime, will receive a three-year work permit and deferral from deportation.

It is currently estimated that there are 1 million immigrants without legal status who are part of mixed-status families in the United States, but about half of them have more difficult cases that may make them ineligible to apply for permanent residency.

Immigration law poses different bureaucratic barriers to foreign nationals, depending on factors such as the number of illegal entries, whether they have overstayed a visa, and how long they have been in the country illegally.

By eliminating some of that risk, the application process should become more appealing to eligible immigrants who would otherwise avoid leaving the United States for fear of being unable to return.

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