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Commentary By Daniel Di Martino

MI Responds: Bidens Policy Protecting Migrant Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Governance Immigration

Manhattan Institute scholar Daniel Di Martino reacts to new Biden policy protecting migrant spouses of U.S. citizens:  

Today’s immigration policy announcement by the Biden administration, which would allow the spouses of Americans who entered the U.S. illegally to apply for permanent legal status, is a good move, but comes at an opportunistic moment with an eye to winning the November election. 

It’s good because the 1996 immigration-law changes barred the spouses of Americans from going through the legal immigration process if they had entered illegally, resulting in an unacceptable situation where more than one million American citizens are married to immigrants who, under current law, will remain in illegal status forever. This policy change allows them to apply for a process called “parole-in-place” which legalizes their entry into the United States and allows them to apply for a green card under the regular process. This authority has been used by presidents of both parties in the past to legalize the unauthorized immigrant families of Americans who are actively serving in the armed forces. 

But the president waited to announce this parole-in-place process until less than five months before the next presidential election, with the goal of pressuring those American families to vote for him who now depend on his re-election to secure legal status for their loved ones. Waiting until right before an election to do this is unethical and wrong. 

President Biden has also failed to do all he could to secure the border, allowing millions of illegal immigrants to enter, many unvetted, under his administration. This new announcement is tone-deaf of this broader reality. It should be accompanied by real executive action to secure the border, as well as negotiations with congress to fund the border security America needs. 

Daniel Di Martino is graduate fellow at the Manhattan Institute. To arrange an interview with Daniel, please reach out to Leo Grunschlag at

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images