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 | Chieko Noguchi | USCCB

Longtime Undocumented Residents and their Families Deserve Protection

“We welcome today’s announcement and the hope it brings to thousands of American families who have grappled with the fear of separation for a decade or more,” said Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, following the Biden Administration’s announcement of a new program for the undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens.

The program allows select individuals who have resided in the country for at least ten years to apply for parole in place, which offers access to legal work authorization and protection from removal if granted, as well as the potential to apply for permanent legal status in certain cases. A similar program has been available to military service members and their families for several years. This comes days after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program marked twelve years since it was first announced. 

Speaking as chairman of the Committee on Migration for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Seitz stated:

“As we commemorate the twelfth anniversary of DACA, we’ve seen the positive impacts such programs can have, not only for beneficiaries themselves but for the families, employers, and communities that rely on them. This new program is sure to yield similar benefits. However, as the fate of DACA hangs in the balance, we also know how insufficient these programs are. Legislators have a moral and patriotic duty to improve our legal immigration system, including the opportunities available for family reunification and preservation. A society is only as strong as its families, and family unity is a fundamental right. For the good of the country, Congress must find a way to overcome partisan divisions and enact immigration reform that includes an earned legalization program for longtime undocumented residents.”