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Biden celebrates DACA anniversary with new benefits for illegal immigrants

Several White House officials reveal that the president is preparing protections for undocumented people married to U.S. citizens and aid for 'DREAMers.'

Montaje del presidente Biden sobre un grupo de inmigrantes vigilado por agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza.

(Voz Media/Cordon Press)

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Despite recently publishing an executive order threatening to tighten restrictions on illegal immigrants, Joe Biden is now preparing to launch a series of more lenient measures, which align with his long-standing personal views. On the twelfth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), initiated by Barack Obama, Biden is expected to announce a new DACA plan. The president will remove penalties for spouses of U.S. citizens who are in the country illegally, easing their path to citizenship. This initiative is anticipated to benefit more than 500,000 people and would apply to the children of these individuals.

White House advisors, in a media briefing, revealed that beneficiaries of the new initiative will not be required to leave the country to complete the nationalization process. This is a significant change from the current system. where individuals seeking citizenship must leave the U.S. and wait abroad for 10 years before their paperwork is finalized. As a result, many undocumented spouses currently opt not to pursue legal status in this way.

At least 500,000 beneficiaries of Biden's plan

Under the new initiative, eligible individuals will receive a three-year work permit and additional benefits. Biden administration officials estimate that at least 500,000 spouses could benefit from the measure, along with approximately 50,000 minors under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a U.S. citizen. To qualify, applicants must prove that they have resided in the country for at least 10 years before June 17, 2024, and be legally married. However, those perceived as national security threats or previously deported will be ineligible.

The Republican Party harshly criticized this initiative, labeling it a "massive amnesty." They argued that it doubles the number of undocumented beneficiaries already living in the country while claiming that "the border is being OVERRUN and BIDEN MIGRANT CRIME devastates communities across the country."

A new DACA?

It will not be the only novelty in favor of immigrants. According to the advisors who briefed the media, Biden plans to announce a second package on the same day, focusing on DACA beneficiaries. The Washington Post reports that Biden aims to expand protections for current DACA enrollees and those who were excluded when the Trump Administration labeled it as an "illegal amnesty" and attempted to end it in 2017. This move comes as DACA's fate remains uncertain in the courts, following a Texas judge's ruling that deemed the program illegal and halted new applications while maintaining protections for existing recipients.

According to officials, Biden's proposal would allow some Dreamers to apply for work visas, potentially providing them with stronger legal standing than the deferred action program.