Biden set to unveil deportation protections for undocumented spouses of US citizens

Washington DC - President Joe Biden is reportedly poised to sign protections for thousands of immigrants living in the US without documentation who have American spouses.

President Joe Biden is reportedly due to announce new measures to extend protections from deportation to people living in the US without documentation who are married to American citizens.
President Joe Biden is reportedly due to announce new measures to extend protections from deportation to people living in the US without documentation who are married to American citizens.  © Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The expected policy would protect undocumented immigrants with US citizen spouses from deportation while allowing them access to work permits and a pathway to citizenship, the New York Times reported.

Officials told the outlet the policy could impact up to 500,000 people.

Biden is likely to make the announcement Tuesday while commemorating the 12-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created under President Barack Obama to protect people who arrived without documentation as children, known as Dreamers.

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As things stand, marrying a US citizen opens a pathway to citizenship, but people who arrived in the country without documentation are required to return to their country of origin in order to complete the process to receive a green card. This can lead to lengthy family separations, which are often not feasible.

On Tuesday, Biden is also expected to announce additional assistance for Dreamers to access work visas.

President Biden challenges the right to seek asylum

People seeking asylum shelter under umbrellas for shade while waiting at the US-Mexico border wall.
People seeking asylum shelter under umbrellas for shade while waiting at the US-Mexico border wall.  © REUTERS

The president's anticipated move comes just weeks after he signed an executive order effectively shutting down the US-Mexico border and barring people from seeking asylum, no matter how serious their cases.

Biden received swift condemnation from immigrants' rights groups and progressive Democrats, who have pointed out its striking resemblance to a 2018 anti-asylum policy promoted by then President Donald Trump.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its partners have launched a lawsuit challenging Biden's asylum ban, saying they will use the same legal strategy they employed to defeat Trump's plan.

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The executive order was not the first time Biden appeared to be trying to build on Trump's anti-migrant legacy as president.

The Democrat last year proposed a policy to bar migrants at the US-Mexico border from receiving asylum in the US if they do not first claim asylum in a country they passed through. His administration in October announced plans to waive 26 environmental laws in order to fast-track border wall construction.

The right to seek asylum is internationally recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Refugee Convention of 1951, and domestically in the Refugee Act of 1980.

Cover photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP

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