Biden Unveils Plan to Legalize 500,000 Undocumented Residents

President Joe Biden is introducing new measures to expedite the process for approximately 500,000 undocumented individuals to obtain legal residency in the United States. This announcement comes shortly after the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and follows the president’s recent executive order to tighten the southern border and expand deportation procedures for new immigrants. These actions have sparked criticism from immigration activists and some members of his own party.

Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan aims to facilitate legal permanent residency for about half a million undocumented spouses married to U.S. citizens who have resided in the country for over ten years as of June 17, 2024. Approved applicants will have a three-year window to seek legal permanent residency for themselves and their estimated 50,000 children under the age of 21, while also being allowed to continue working in the U.S. during this process. Additionally, the president seeks to expedite the visa process for foreign-born students graduating from U.S. higher education institutions who have job offers from American companies, including “Dreamers.”

Critics within the Democratic party and immigration activists have raised concerns about Biden’s perceived shift to the right on immigration. They suggest that the president is deviating from his campaign promises to reverse former President Donald Trump’s stricter immigration policies and to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for DACA recipients.

Despite these concerns, the White House has engaged in substantive negotiations on the Senate’s bipartisan border reform bill earlier this year, indicating a balanced approach. While some question the timing and motivations behind Biden’s recent immigration actions, the administration emphasizes that these measures do not create a new pathway to legal status for any undocumented immigrants. Instead, they aim to give eligible individuals the opportunity to apply for legal status without leaving the country.

President Biden’s immigration strategy continues to draw mixed reactions. Polling data shows that a significant portion of the population believes undocumented immigrants living in the country for an extended period should be granted some form of legal status, although there has been a shift in public opinion since 2017. A recent Monmouth University poll suggests that while 40% of respondents support Biden’s border order, a larger share of Republicans back the president’s action compared to Democrats and independents.

In the face of criticism and scrutiny, the administration continues to defend its immigration policies. Democratic operatives close to the Biden campaign and the White House maintain that the president’s latest moves are not a knee-jerk reaction to criticism but rather a commitment to addressing the broken immigration system without compromising American values of compassion and opportunity.

Written by Staff Reports

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