Joe Biden unveils plan to grant citizenship to spouses of US citizens

US president announces plan for immigrants in bid to secure votes for upcoming presidential elections

By Web Desk
June 19, 2024
United States President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Las Vegas on February 4, 2024. — AFP

United States President Joe Biden has announced a proposal to provide citizenship to numerous undocumented immigrants who are married to US citizens.

According to Reuters, the 81-year-old president criticised his 78-year-old opponent Donald Trump for separating families at the US-Mexico border and using derogatory language towards undocumented immigrants, accusing them of "poisoning the blood of our country".

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"It's hard to believe it's being said, but he's actually saying these things out loud. And it's outrageous," Biden said during an event at the White House.

"I'm not interested in playing politics with the border or immigration. I'm interested in fixing it," he added.

Biden has pushed back against Trump’s strict immigration policies but, during his time in the White House, he also encountered a surge in migrant detentions at the country’s border with Mexico.

Biden's planned legalisation programme for US citizens’ spouses could reinforce his campaign message of supporting a more humane immigration system.

What does Biden's proposal offer?

The new Biden programme will be open to an estimated 500,000 spouses who have lived in the US for at least 10 years as of June 17, officials said on Tuesday. Some 50,000 children under age 21 with a US-citizen parent also will be eligible.

The US already provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who are married to Americans and entered the country legally on a visa. But in most cases, those who enter illegally must first leave the US for years before being allowed to return legally.

The new programme will allow the spouses and their children to apply for permanent residence without traveling abroad, removing a potentially lengthy process and family separation.

The path to obtain permanent residence could take months or years. From there, they could apply for citizenship. People who have disqualifying criminal history would not be eligible.

The implementation will roll out in coming months and the majority of likely beneficiaries would be Mexicans, Biden officials said on a call with reporters.

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