Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Biden Administration announces new protections for undocumented spouses of US citizens, DACA recipients

Nikita Sveshnikov

The Biden Administration announced new protections on June 18 for undocumented immigrants and their families. 

The policy would permit non-citizens who have resided in the U.S. for a minimum of 10 years and are married to a U.S. citizen, along with their children, to apply for permanent residency without leaving the country. It will also simplify the process for DACA beneficiaries and Dreamers to obtain high-skilled employment visas.

Huey Fischer García, a former Southern Poverty Law Center attorney, said the policy change is a significant and commendable first step by the Biden Administration. However, he also noted that the administration could do more for immigrants, pointing out that President Biden has previously advocated for broader measures. 

“I think this administration has unfortunately been very hostile to immigrants,” Fisher García said. “It continues a policy of immigrant detention. … It falls short of what Biden had put out there on the campaign trail in 2020, falls short of international law and falls short of America’s promise to immigrants and welcoming folks in.” 

Undocumented immigrants eligible for a green card through their U.S. citizen spouse face significant hurdles because they originally entered the country without inspection, said the American Immigration Council in a press release. To receive a green card, they typically must leave the U.S., risking a 10-year or permanent reentry bar. The new policy changes this by allowing them to apply for a green card without leaving the country, avoiding the risk of family separation.

Nursing sophomore Erick Lara Barrientos said there has been a huge misconception about immigrants coming to the U.S. to only receive benefits. He said people migrate here to make a better living for themselves and their families, and face stigma because of it. 

“I don’t think immigrants are in this country simply to receive the benefits that are given by the government,” Barrientos said. “They are here because they genuinely want to work for what they’re seeking.” 

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, immigrants’ use of public benefits indicates that individual immigrants utilize these benefits at lower rates and in smaller amounts than native-born Americans.

Raul Montoya, a social work senior from McAllen, has family members who are both U.S. residents and non-residents. He praised the policy as a commendable step toward enhancing family unity but emphasized that further efforts are needed from both lawmakers and students.

“I love that people want to advocate for us, but if you cannot sit down and talk to someone who’s been affected, how much do you really care?” Montoya said. “Being so aware of everything that actually goes on instead of just doing it for some change …  there has to be some passion for some change to actually happen.” 

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