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Democratic senators urge Biden to protect migrant children, spouses who might be deported under Trump

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 17 Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday asking his administration to “take all available action” to speed up the process for granting lawful status to migrants who have come to the country illegally.

The senators urged Biden to swiftly provide administrative “relief” to hundreds of thousands of immigrants to protect them from the threat of deportation if President Trump returns to office.

“Over 1.1 million U.S. citizens are married to an undocumented immigrant, and roughly 4.9 million U.S. citizen children have at least one undocumented parent. Deporting all such individuals — as former President Donald Trump has threatened to do if reelected — would devastate the American economy and destroy American families,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The senators pointed out that “undocumented immigrants” contributed an estimated $9.7 billion federal and state taxes and more than $11 billion in Social Security contributions in 2019 alone.

“These families live in fear that they may be separated from their loved one due to deportation, and often forgo much needed health care and decline to report crimes due to their immigration status,” they wrote.

The signatories included Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sanders, among others.

The senators specifically asked Biden to take administrative action to speed the processing of green card applications of undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens, noting that they face “significant processing delays.”

They argued such applications now take a median of 42 months to complete.

The senators are also asking the administration to speed up the process for immigrants who applied for legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to later have the opportunity to be sponsored by a prospective employer for a green card.

“Many applicants face processing hurdles when they seek to change status. For example, they often must travel to a consulate to change status and struggle to obtain an appointment,” they wrote.

“We urge you to take steps to streamline the process by which DACA holders may obtain another status,” they said.

They also want the departments of Homeland Security and Justice to issue a regulation to allow undocumented immigrants who are family caregivers to get out of deportation proceedings by applying for the cancellation of removal orders.

The senators argued that streamlining the deportation cancellation process and increasing access to permanent resident status for caregivers would help “their American families,” given that they often help children with acute needs.

“We appreciate your careful consideration of these recommendations and all available options to provide much needed relief for undocumented immigrants and the American businesses, families, and communities that rely upon them,” they wrote.

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