Illegal immigrants married to Americans will be able to stay in US under new Biden plan

The US government has been grappling with a record influx of illegal migrants into Texas, Arizona and California
The US government has been grappling with a record influx of illegal migrants into Texas, Arizona and California - FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who married Americans will be given US citizenship under plans by Joe Biden to placate Democrats who are enraged by his border crackdown.

The White House announced on Tuesday that the US government would give legal status to as many as half a million illegal migrants, in a move Donald Trump described as a “mass amnesty”.

Immigrants who have lived in the US for ten years and married an American citizen will be allowed to remain in the country with permanent residency, and will eventually be given citizenship.

More than half a million immigrants could be affected, senior administration officials said.

The decision comes after months of criticism of the US president for cracking down on illegal migration at the border.

Some Democrats have accused Mr Biden of becoming more hardline over the border to win back public support ahead of November’s election.

Mr Biden has described his border policies as the 'toughest' ever
Mr Biden has described his border policies as the 'toughest' ever - Daniel Cole/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The announcement comes two weeks after the US president unveiled a sweeping crackdown at the Mexican border, which effectively halted asylum claims for those arriving between officially designated ports of entry.

Mr Biden has described his border policies as the “toughest” ever. The government has been grappling with a record influx of illegal migrants into Texas, Arizona and California, many of whom travelled to South America to attempt the crossing.

The American asylum system is plagued by a backlog of more than two million cases. Some Republican governors of southern states have paid to transport migrants north to Democrat-controlled areas including New York, Chicago and Washington DC.

The southern border has become a major campaign issue for both Mr Biden and Trump, who has pledged to bring back plans for a border wall and deploy troops to deter those crossing into the US.

“Biden is preparing to give mass amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens,” Trump said on his Truth Social platform on Monday after the plans were first reported.

Karoline Leavitt, the Trump campaign national press secretary, said on Tuesday that the plan would “undoubtedly lead to a greater surge in migrant crime, cost taxpayers millions of dollars they cannot afford, overwhelm public services, and steal Social Security and Medicare benefits from American seniors to fund benefits for illegals”.

“Biden doesn’t care about the American lives that will forever be destroyed by the illegal criminals he is importing,” she said.

Migrants on the US/Mexico border
The American asylum system is plagued by a backlog of more than two million cases - Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

Trump and other Republicans have highlighted cases of illegal migrants committing violent crimes after crossing into the US, and argued that the government has overseen an explosion of “Biden migrant crime”.

Various independent studies have shown that illegal migrants are between 37 per cent and 60 per cent less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

Tom Cotton, a Republican senator, said the timing of the policy was a “new low” and argued the border crackdown had been revealed to be a “politically motivated sham”.

Senior administration officials said they anticipate the new scheme will be open for applications by the end of the summer, and fees to apply have yet to be determined.

The policy will be formally announced by Mr Biden in an event on Tuesday, which Democrats have been encouraged to attend.

The policy would expand on authority used by presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama to allow “parole in place” to some migrants.

The “parole” authority has become a point of contention with Republicans in Congress, who have attempted to abolish it.