In Brief

Murphy administration urges Biden to offer protections to undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens

By: - June 14, 2024 4:55 pm

Thursday was the 12th anniversary of DACA, an Obama-era policy that offers work permits and protection from deportation to undocumented residents brought to America as children. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The Murphy administration is urging President Joe Biden to extend work permits and protection from deportation to undocumented spouses of American citizens.

The federal government needs to continue protecting and expanding opportunities for immigrants, Emy Quispe, a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Phil Murphy, said at an event Thursday commemorating the 12th anniversary of DACA. That’s an Obama-era policy that offers protection from deportation and work permits to undocumented residents who were brought to America as children.

Quispe referenced media reports that say Biden is considering issuing an executive order granting work permits for spouses of U.S. citizens.

“By helping eligible immigrants more easily acquire work permits and find employment, we will bolster our state’s workforce and support businesses throughout New Jersey,” she said.

According to the New York Times, the Biden administration is still weighing the policy, which would make it easier for some undocumented people to find a path to permanent residency or citizenship. It comes on the heels of President Biden’s executive order making it harder to seek asylum in the United States in an effort to deter illegal migration at the U.S. border with Mexico.

In cases where an undocumented person who marries an American citizen is seeking citizenship themselves, they must return to their native countries and remain there for several years — in many cases, up to a decade — before they can begin the citizenship process.

New Jersey is home to roughly 400,000 undocumented immigrants.

Quispe highlighted Murphy’s policies in support of the undocumented community, like extending driver’s licenses to residents regardless of citizenship status and providing undocumented children with health care.

“As the governor has stated in his ‘state of the state,’ immigrants are the backbone of our state – immigrants are an integral part of the fabric of New Jersey and our nation. And, these actions benefit our economy, workers, and employers nationwide,” she said.

Thursday’s event was hosted by Make the Road New Jersey, an immigrant rights and labor advocacy organization based in Elizabeth. The group sees the administration’s remarks as a win for the hundreds of thousands of mixed-status families it could impact in New Jersey.

“Every day, U.S citizens face the possibility their loved ones will be deported due to outdated immigration policies, facing the pain of separation from their loved ones. President Biden has the opportunity to act now to ensure that families don’t endure pain and suffering,” said Lilibeth Alaniz, a member of Make the Road.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting. You can reach her at [email protected].

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