Biden To Announce New Executive Action Protecting Immigrant Spouses and Children of US Citizens

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 24, 2024

President Biden has introduced an executive action allowing undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the country.

This significant move aims to provide protection and legal status to approximately 550,000 individuals, marking one of the most substantial immigration relief programs since DACA in 2012.

Aimed at Family Unity

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the importance of family unity, stating, “It is about family unity. That is an ethic and a value of this country.”

father holding son while being apprehended by US Border Security

Source: John Moore, Getty Images

The new action aligns with this value by keeping families together and allowing them to remain in the U.S. during the residency application process.

Impact on American Families

This executive action is set to benefit around 500,000 American families and 50,000 noncitizen children under the age of 21.

A photograph of Joe Biden next to an American flag

Source: Wikimedia

By eliminating the need for spouses to leave the country, the Biden administration is addressing a significant barrier that has previously disrupted families and created uncertainty about their future in the U.S.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, individuals must have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years and be legally married to a U.S. citizen.

top view of US immigration document with US flag on the left side

The change is expected to streamline the application process and reduce the risks associated with leaving the country, thereby providing a more stable and secure path to residency.

Timing and Application Process

The application process for this new program will open by the end of the summer.

President Joe Biden pointing in 2024.

Source: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The timing is strategic, providing enough lead time for eligible individuals to prepare their applications while also aligning with the Biden administration’s broader immigration policy goals.

Political Implications

The move is seen as an effort to appeal to key Latino constituencies in battleground states such as Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.

People holding up signs. One sign says, “Immigrants make America great.” Another says, “No hate, no fear; refugees are welcome here!”

Source: Nitish Meena/Unsplash

These states are crucial for Biden’s re-election bid, and the administration hopes that this policy will garner support from immigrant communities and their allies.


Economic Benefits

Immigration experts suggest that allowing undocumented spouses to apply for residency without leaving the U.S. could have significant economic benefits.

A close-up of a green stock market graph.

Source: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

By enabling them to seek higher-wage jobs, this policy could unlock suppressed economic potential and contribute positively to the U.S. economy.


Criticism and Legal Challenges

Despite its potential benefits, the executive action faces criticism and legal challenges from some Republican leaders. They argue that the policy could create incentives for illegal immigration and undermine the rule of law.

A close-up of a white paper about immigration that is on the road.

Source: Metin Ozer/Unsplash

Legal battles are anticipated, but the Biden administration believes the action is within their legal authority.


Bipartisan Solutions and Congressional Inaction

Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican who has worked on immigration issues, advocates for a bipartisan bill as a better solution.

The entrance sign of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, featuring the department's seal

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, he and other Republicans have previously voted against such measures, highlighting the ongoing challenge of achieving comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.


Support from Immigration Advocates

Immigration advocacy groups have welcomed the announcement, viewing it as a positive step towards protecting families affected by broken immigration laws.

Two Person in Long-sleeved Shirt Shakehand

Source: Cytonn Photography/Pexels

Todd Schulte, president of, encouraged President Biden to act boldly, noting that Americans across the political spectrum support responsible protections for long-term residents.


Personal Stories and Community Impact

Democratic Rep. Delia Ramirez, whose husband is a DACA recipient, expressed mixed feelings.

Immigration at JFK with people standing in line

Source: Wikimedia

While welcoming the new action, she pointed out that many people remain in the shadows, highlighting the ongoing need for broader immigration reform to address the concerns of undocumented individuals still waiting for relief.


Future Steps and Administration's Commitment

President Biden has hinted at further steps to make the immigration system more fair and just in the coming weeks.

An image of Joe Biden pictured during an event

Source: Wikimedia

His administration remains committed to taking action where Congress has not, as emphasized by Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, who praised Biden’s leadership in addressing the challenges of the current immigration system.