Report: Biden Admin Eyes Expanding Green Card Access In Deportation Cases
US President Joe Biden speaks on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after being struck by a container ship, causing vehicles to plunge into the water and halting shipping traffic at one of the most important ports on the US East Coast. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg
Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is reportedly considering expanding noncitizens’ access to green cards, which confer legal permanent residence in the U.S.

White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are looking into expanding the “cancellation of removal” program. Officials are working on actions the president could take, possibly this summer, to blunt criticism of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, according to POLITICO.

Immigrants undergoing deportation proceedings in immigration court can apply for “cancellation of removal.” If eligible, applicants may be given a green card and lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

The cancellation process is limited to 4,000 people each year, and the applicant must be undergoing deportation proceedings to apply. To qualify, the applicant must have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years, be of “good moral character,” not have been convicted of disqualifying crimes, and have a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who would “suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” if the applicant is deported.

The program is only defensive, meaning that immigrants cannot apply until they officially enter into deportation proceedings in an immigration court. It’s unclear how the Biden administration may intend to broaden out the process.

A group of Democratic lawmakers last year pressed the Biden administration to consider expanding the cancellation of removal process. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Alex Padilla of California wrote to officials at DHS and the Department of Justice in May 2023, pushing them to make cancellation of removal proceedings “more accessible.”

The letter urges a reform of the program that would allow immigrants to apply for a review of their case outside of deportation proceedings. If the applicant is found to be a good candidate for the program and a green card, officials would then start deportation proceedings to allow the immigrant to officially apply for cancellation of removal.


“It is estimated that 1.2 million undocumented individuals are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and about 4.1 million U.S. citizen children have undocumented parents,” the senators wrote. “Establishing a new process for cancellation of removal could have a significant positive impact on many of those individuals and help deliver on the administration’s commitment to immigrant families who deserve to stay together and live and work in the communities they call home.”

Ur Jaddou, the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at DHS, responded to the letter in July 2023.

“DHS will consider your recommendation to establish a new process and will examine pre-existing policy and process options that may be available to noncitizens who may be eligible for cancellation of removal, but who are not in removal proceedings,” Jaddou wrote.

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