Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden AFP

The Biden administration is taking steps toward offering hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants legal status in the U.S., CBS News reported.

The program is targeted at spouses of U.S. citizens who lived in the country for at least ten years, the outlet said, citing four people familiar with the deliberations.

Known as "Parole in Place," it would be one of the largest immigration relief programs in at least ten years. The plan removes a key hurdle for potential beneficiaries by not requiring those who entered the country illegally to leave it before obtaining a green card.

It could benefit about 1.1 million unlawful immigrants, about 10% of the estimated 11 million living in the country illegally, according to the latest government estimate. The figure, however, is likely to be higher given the increased amount of immigration during the two years since the report was released.

The plan could be announced as soon as Tuesday, but no final decision has been made. The White House will celebrate on that day the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which prevents over half a million undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children from being deported.

The Biden administration could also announce then a project to streamline the process for DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants to obtain temporary visas (like H-1B for high-skilled workers) more easily.

The potential announcement comes as immigration is playing a salient role in the presidential campaign, with Biden taking heat from both ends of the political spectrum for the government's policies.

The administration recently issued a controversial executive order a controversial executive order aimed at stemming the flow of migrants entering the country, which determines that once arrivals at the U.S. southern border reach an average of 2,500 per day over a seven-day period, officials will bar migrants from claiming asylum and deport them to Mexico or their home countries.

The measure could be turned on and off and would be lifted when there's a daily average of fewer than 1,500 encounters between ports of entry.

The administration also got sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other immigrant advocacy organizations over the measure. The complaint was filed in a federal court in Washington D.C., with attorneys arguing that the decision violates a Congress' statute allowing migrants to request asylum regardless of whether they get to the country through a port of entry.

"For those who say the steps I've taken are too strict, I say to you that — be patient," Biden said on Tuesday, the same day he launched the executive order, seemingly addressing immigration advocates who criticized him for the decision.

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