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President Biden's sweeping immigration plan offers citizenship pathway to hundreds of thousands

President Biden announces a historic immigration plan marks the most significant federal protection in over a decade

In a landmark election-year move, President Joe Biden has announced a comprehensive plan aimed at offering relief and a path to citizenship for potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently without legal status in the United States. This ambitious initiative is seen as a balancing act to counterbalance his recent stringent measures at the southern border, which sparked significant backlash among immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers.

The new policy, unveiled at a White House event, signifies the most extensive federal protection for immigrants in over a decade, providing a stark contrast to the hardline immigration policies of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. By focusing on uniting families and offering legal pathways to citizenship, Biden aims to address long-standing immigration issues and energize Latino communities across the country.

A historic step towards immigration reform

President Biden's announcement marks a pivotal moment in U.S. immigration policy. The new directive will allow certain U.S. citizens' spouses without legal status to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship without having to leave the country. This policy could impact up to half a million immigrants, according to senior administration officials, providing them with a path to legal status and shielding them from the threat of deportation. To qualify, immigrants must have resided in the U.S. for at least ten years and be married to a U.S. citizen as of the announcement date. Additionally, around 50,000 non-citizen children with U.S. citizen parents could also benefit from this process.

This initiative expands on the "parole in place" authority previously used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to grant similar protections to family members of military personnel. By invoking this power, Biden aims to fortify family units and offer a more humane approach to immigration policy, emphasizing the importance of keeping American families together.

The announcement coincided with the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era directive that has provided deportation protections and work permits for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The new regulations introduced by Biden will also facilitate certain DACA beneficiaries and other young immigrants in qualifying for long-established work visas, providing them with more stable protection than the temporary measures offered by DACA, which is currently under legal scrutiny and not accepting new applications.

Joe Biden smiling and greeting supporters at a campaign event.

Political implications and community reactions

Biden's sweeping immigration plan sets the stage for a stark political contrast with Donald Trump, whose campaign rhetoric and policies have consistently targeted immigrants with harsh measures and inflammatory language. Biden's approach, focused on family unity and providing legal pathways to citizenship, aims to resonate with voters who favor a more compassionate and inclusive immigration policy.

Among those welcoming the announcement are families with mixed immigration status, such as Antonio and Brenda Valle from Los Angeles. For nearly 12 years, they have lived in constant fear of Brenda's DACA status not being renewed, despite their two sons being U.S. citizens. The new policy offers them hope for a stable future without the looming threat of deportation.

Similarly, Foday Turay, who attended the White House event, embodies the potential beneficiaries of this new policy. Having arrived in the U.S. from Sierra Leone at the age of ten, Turay is now a DACA recipient, working as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and married to a third-generation U.S. citizen. The announcement brings him closer to the security and permanence that his family has long sought.

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