Kudos for President Biden’s Executive Action on Mixed-Status Families and Dreamers

Jun 19, 2024

Photo of parents holding happy children

By Mel Wilson, NASW Senior Policy Advisor

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds and appreciates the Biden Administration’s  Executive Action (EA) announcing the creation of additional pathways for legal status and work authorization for spouses of U.S. citizens and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — as well as undocumented youth, known as “Dreamers.”

For undocumented immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens, the Biden EA will now enable them to qualify for parole in place, which means they can stay with their families as they apply for permanent residency. Prior to the EA, the undocumented spouse had to return to their home countries to modify their status. This often resulted in years of separation from children and spouses, and sometimes led to permanent separation. Not only can they now complete the process in the U.S., they will also be authorized to work in the U.S.

It has been estimated that there are as many as 1 million undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens living in the U.S. These households are often referred to as mixed-status families. Just as significantly, there are more than five million children living with at least one undocumented parent.

It should be noted that the provisions in Biden’s EA have the support of the American people. According to recent polling, a significant majority of voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented caregivers and spouses of U.S. citizens. Additionally, research indicates that when separated from their parents, the emotional and social development of children is impacted. Conversely, under the new EA, children will benefit greatly when their families achieve stability and economic mobility gained through lawful status and work authorization.

As far as DACA recipients are concerned, new guidance on the D-3 waiver program  will allow eligible DACA recipients and other Dreamers a streamlined way to apply for work visas. The result of this change is that tens of thousands of Dreamers will now be eligible for work visas and a pathway to permanent status. This policy removes the uncertainty facing many DACA recipients, their families, and other undocumented youth who have been locked out of the DACA program. There are more than a quarter million U.S. citizen children with at least one parent who has DACA.

The immigration justice community, which includes NASW, is fully supportive of the Biden Executive Action. It demonstrates the administration’s continued effort to eliminate barriers to immigration policies that support families.

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