Biden Administration

Mixed-status families eagerly await expedited immigration policy

The Biden Administration announced plans to cut down the wait time faced by certain families significantly

NBC Universal, Inc.

Ahead of the November election, the Biden Administration announced executive actions to “keep families together,” specifically U.S. citizens married to undocumented migrants vying for legal status.

According to the White House, an estimated 500,000 spouses stand to benefit. The Ayala-Granados family of Rockwall is among those who may qualify.

Attorneys with The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration describe the family as a ‘mixed-status’ family. Bennie Ayala and her three daughters, ages 2, 4, and 8, are Americans born in Texas. Ayala’s husband, Evy Granados, is a Mexican national who came to the U.S. illegally.

“He’s been here for 12 years,” said Ayala. “We’ve been married 11 years. We’re in the process of getting a green card.”

The family has been waiting more than five years to complete the permanent resident process, with two more years expected.

Granados is eager to work as a mechanic and provide for his family, including his 8-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

The process to obtain a permanent U.S. residency includes filing a waiver to keep Granados from having to return to Mexico.

“It’s just really frustrating,” said Ayala. “I just want him to be able to work legally for us, to support our family.”

Last week, the Biden Administration announced plans to cut down the wait time experienced by some families significantly.

The executive action would shield an estimated 500,000 immigrants living in the U.S. from deportation, allowing applicants to work and remain in the U.S. during the legal process.

While cases would be considered on a case-by-case basis, eligibility requirements include migrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally at least 10 years ago, married a U.S. citizen before the June 17 announcement, and have no criminal record.

“Just in my practice alone, I’m thinking probably 60%,” said immigration attorney Fernando Dubove.

“The parole in place is not amnesty. Parole in place is something that's been in place for years and years. We use it, as President Biden pointed out in his announcement, we provide parole in place for immediate family members of active U.S. military so they don't have to leave the country to get their green card. They can get their green card in the United States. The parole in place acts as a way for someone who might have entered illegally to be able to get their residency without leaving the country from within the United States and they can do it within a year and a half or two years. You know, this is an efficiency. This is all about immigration efficiency,” Dubove said.

Dubove represents the Ayala-Granados family and is confident they would qualify. However, not everyone will.

The action does not apply to recent waves of migrants and asylum seekers, those rushing to marry after the June 17 announcement, or those who have disqualifying criminal records.

“There are grounds of inadmissibility and create problems,” said Dubove. “Things like possession of controlled substance, unlawful carrying of a weapon, domestic violence, aggravated assault, things like that. A DWI, in and of itself, is not a deportable offense.”

Multiple or recent DUIs can be grounds for rejection, warns Dubove.

Dubove believes the order would stand legal challenges.

“It is just a way to more efficiently manage a federal agency, USCIS, and that's part of the president and the government's job,” he said. “This is an agency management efficiency issue. This is not expanding just a whole category of people that wouldn't be getting this benefit anyway. We're just accelerating them getting the benefit they're entitled to. So I hope that's the argument that carries weight in court that will avoid shutting this whole program down.”

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