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Mixed-status families renew calls to Biden to provide protection through parole

U.S. citizens with undocumented relatives are renewing their calls to the Biden administration to protect their families from deportation through a special immigration status called parole.

It's a broad executive authority that gives temporary protection to non-U.S. citizens and allows them to apply for work permits. Presidential administrations, including Biden's, have used  forms of parole in dozens of programs in the last several decades. 

The advocacy group FWS.US estimates there are more than 1 million U.S. citizens with spouses who are undocumented. Meanwhile, almost 5.5 million U.S. citizens have undocumented parents.

Maria Praeli, deputy director of government relations and coalitions at FWD.us, says she understands what that’s like first-hard.

"I moved to the United States when I was 5 years old, and immediately sensed that things were different for my family. My mother would tense up when we would drive past a police officer. We would avoid medical visits," she said.

In a press conference this week, Praeli told reporters becoming a DACA recipient changed her life because the Obama-era program allowed her to get a driver's license, work permit and temporary protection from deportation.

She and other advocates said real, long-term immigration reform needed to happen in Congress. But in the meantime, the Biden administration could temporarily safeguard some undocumented people now — and bolster the workforce — through parole.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.