JUST IN : Biden announces new executive action protecting some undocumented immigrant spouses and children of US citizens

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JUST IN : Biden announces new executive action protecting some undocumented immigrant spouses and children of US citizens.

The action will provide legal status and protections for about 500,000 American families and roughly 50,000 noncitizen children of immigrants under the age of 21 whose parent is married to a US citizen, a senior administration official said. It amounts to one of the federal government’s biggest relief programs for undocumented immigrants since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.

knowing Americans across the political spectrum support these responsible protections for individuals who have lived in our communities and proven their contributions to our country for years.”

Immigration experts note that individuals affected by the change are already eligible for green cards because of their marital status, but they are now able to apply from inside the US. Previously, individuals had to apply from outside the United States, and – if they had been in the country unlawfully – remain outside the US for 10 years.

The change in status could impact up to 550,000 individuals, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and allowing those individuals to seek higher-wage jobs could have sizable economic benefit.

“When you’re unauthorized, it freezes you in the underground economy,” Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, told CNN. “These are people who have suppressed potential who will be free to work anywhere they want.”

Leading Senate Republicans sharply criticized Biden ahead of Tuesday’s announcement. Republican Whip John Thune accused the administration of creating more “pull factors” with the planned immigration action.

“They are increasing incentive for people to come here illegally,” Thune said. “I am sure they’ll be challenged.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, another Republican who has worked on immigration issues in the Senate, told CNN that the better solution would be to find a bipartisan bill. Tillis voted against the bipartisan border security bill earlier this year.

Some Democrats in the Senate praised Biden’s executive order while those in vulnerable seats tried towing a line.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren praised Biden’s decision while conceding his earlier executive order that restricted border crossings was “not how (I) would have approached it.”

“But I do appreciate that right now what the president is doing is he’s saying families are important to Americans, and that we’re going to do everything we can to protect the spouses of American citizens,” she said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, a vulnerable Democrat from Ohio, declined to say if he supports the new executive order. “I do not know enough about this yet,” he told CNN.

“A good idea is that Congress finally pass the bipartisan border bill to secure the border and to pass an immigration bill. And presidents of both parties have failed and I’m hopeful that we do that and make a real difference,” he added.

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat in a vulnerable seat, also declined to say if he supports Biden’s executive order. “I’ve got to look at what the president – I haven’t seen the proposal, I’ll wait until I see it,” he told CNN.

However, he did praise Biden’s executive order from earlier this month aimed at restricting border crossings.

“I think that was the right thing to do, to make that proposal, it’s obviously being challenged,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Delia Ramirez of Illinois, whose husband is a DACA recipient, said the executive action was welcome news – but added there is still “more work to do.”

“There are still hundreds of thousands of people still in the shadows who are going to watch the news today and ask themselves does this finally mean that I finally get out of the shadows and for many, not yet,” Ramirez told CNN moments before she joined her husband, Boris, at the White House event for Biden’s announcement.

Biden also announced Tuesday that his administration will facilitate the employment-visa process for people who have graduated from college and have a high-skilled job offer.

Lawal AbdulSalam Olawale

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