Biden announces relief for migrant groups


Lerato Khumalo

Balancing act in the election year: US President Biden is trying to do justice to a wide range of interests on the controversial issue of migration. Strict restrictions are now to be followed by relaxations for some.

After tightening asylum rules at the US southern border, President Joe Biden has now announced easing of restrictions for certain migrants who have entered the country irregularly. They affect people who have lived in the US for at least ten years and are married to American citizens. “There is already a process for these people,” Biden said in Washington. “But this process is arduous, risky and it separates families.”

Currently, partners of US citizens who have entered the US irregularly must leave the country and then apply for permanent residency (colloquially known as a “green card”) from outside. According to government officials, the new regulation is set to come into force at the end of the summer.

From then on, those affected will be able to submit their application in the USA and stay with their families. They will also be given the opportunity to work during the process. Biden stressed that the new regulation will only apply retroactively, i.e. “not to anyone who is trying to come here today”.

At the same time, Biden also announced the relaxation of regulations for “Dreamers.” This is the term used in the USA to describe migrants who entered the country irregularly as children with their parents and who, although they enjoy protection status under the so-called Daca program, cannot become US citizens.

In the future, it will be easier for them to obtain work permits if they have graduated from a US university and received an offer from a US employer. “I want people who are educated here to use their skills and knowledge in America,” said Biden. “I want to continue to build the strongest economy in the world with the best workforce in the world.”

Reforming immigration legislation has long been a hot topic in the US. This controversial issue plays a particularly important role in the presidential election campaign. At the beginning of June, Biden drastically tightened the asylum rules for migrants who illegally enter the US via the southern border. Since then, anyone who does not report to a border crossing in the usual manner can be deported without their asylum application being processed. Several human rights organizations are taking legal action against this.