Biden to Make Immigration Relief Ahead of Elections

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When news broke of U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan to provide a path to citizenship for certain immigrants who entered the country illegally and are married to U.S. citizens, Pennsylvania-based immigration lawyer Bridget Cambria didn’t need long to think of clients it could help.

Over the years, she had met with many such couples, explaining to them how difficult it was going to be for the immigrant spouse to get U.S. legal permanent residency. The process, in most cases, required the immigrant to leave the country, potentially enduring years of family separation before being eligible to return.

“When I called them, it was nice to tell them something happy for once,” Cambria said. “Some of them cried, most of them were just in disbelief or shock.”

Biden’s move on Tuesday that would allow hundreds of thousands of spouses of U.S. citizens to legalize their immigration status without leaving the United States is a huge development for the families involved, but it is also a high-stakes political gambit in an election year.

Biden, a Democrat seeking another term in November, has struggled with high levels of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. His Republican challenger, hardliner Donald Trump, has pushed a message that immigrants are committing more violent crimes than U.S. citizens, despite statistics to the contrary, and “poisoning the blood” of the country.

Biden has walked a political tightrope in recent months – toughening his stance on border enforcement while trying not to alienate liberal voters and Latinos. The Democrat beat Trump in 2020 when Biden pledged a more humane approach to immigration, a sharp contrast to Trump’s four years in office.

When it comes to immigration policy, registered voters prefer Trump over Biden by a 17 percentage point margin, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in mid-May.

One of the couples Cambria, the Pennsylvania immigration lawyer, called was Carmen Miranda, 56, and her husband Francisco Cortez, 52, of Reading, Pennsylvania.

Miranda met Cortez, who is Mexican, through a friend when she was in her early 20s. He had entered the country illegally in 1987, and she was a single mother of two young children. They dated for several years before getting married in 2003.

Miranda, who has multiple sclerosis and dwarfism and depends on Cortez to support her, said she was excited when Cambria called her with the news.

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