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The Day One Immigration Reform Plan

President Biden is set to announce a groundbreaking immigration program that aims to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens. The Day One Immigration Reform Plan represents one of the most significant immigration reforms in decades, comparable only to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) introduced by President Obama. 

Keeping Families Together 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will ensure that U.S. citizens with noncitizen spouses and children can keep their families intact. This program has the potential to benefit immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade, offering them work permits, deportation protections, and a pathway to apply for green cards.  

Expanding an Existing Framework 

The Biden administration’s decision to provide immigration relief to spouses of U.S. citizens builds on a smaller, decade-old program designed for military families. Democratic polling indicates broad support among Americans for granting legal status to spouses of U.S. citizens, even if they entered the country illegally.  

Addressing Long-Standing Issues 

Currently, immigrants without permanent legal status who have lived in the U.S. for decades, primarily from Mexico, have not benefitted from existing policies. Under current laws, migrants who entered the country through the southern border and then married a U.S. citizen must leave the U.S. for ten years before becoming eligible for a green card. The new program aims to change this by granting parole in place, which provides deportation relief and access to work permits while immigrants apply for permanent residency. 

Biden’s Vision for Immigration 

President Biden believes in securing the border while expanding lawful pathways and keeping families together. He emphasizes that immigrants who have been in the U.S. for decades, paying taxes, and contributing to their communities are integral to the social fabric of our country. This new policy reflects the need for both a secure border and protections for long-term undocumented immigrants. 

Eligibility & Impact 

To be eligible for this new program, noncitizens must have resided in the U.S. for ten or more years and be legally married to a U.S. citizen, meeting all applicable legal requirements. On average, eligible individuals have resided in the U.S. for 23 years. Approved applicants will have a three-year window to apply for permanent residency, during which they can remain with their families and obtain work authorization. 

Significant Reach 

The action is expected to affect approximately half a million spouses of U.S. citizens and around 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen. Additionally, DACA recipients who entered the U.S. unlawfully will most likely be eligible for this process. This is because these many DACA recipients are at the age where they have received higher education, or if they are getting married to a U.S. citizen. DACA recipients who have earned degrees from accredits U.S. institutions and secured employment offers in related fields will benefit from expedited work visas, further solidifying their contributions to the U.S. economy and society. 

Conclusion 

President Biden’s new immigration initiative is a bold step towards comprehensive immigration reform. By providing legal status to undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens, the program not only strengthens families but also reinforces the values of inclusion and fairness in the American immigration system. This policy is not yet available for unlawful immigrants to receive lawful permanent status, but the President is working with Congress so that people can benefit from this executive order. If you have any questions on this matter, feel free to reach out to one of our team members at Berardi Immigration Law