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Two weeks after establishing perhaps the most restrictive refugee policies in our nation’s history, President Joe Biden has about-faced and announced more compassionate, and reasonable policies regarding undocumented immigrants.

This late in his presidential term and in the final months of a neck-and-neck reelection campaign with Donald Trump, there’s little doubt that Biden’s action is a purely political move. However, it’s a welcome step toward doing what’s right as a humanitarian matter.

Biden on Tuesday announced an executive order that allows undocumented residents who have been married to U.S. citizens and lived in this country for 10 years to apply for legal residency without having to leave the country. Non-citizen children of such couples also could seek legal status.

Essentially, it’s an extension of the “parole in place” policy that has been in place for more than a decade.

Currently, people seeking residency visas to leave the country and apply through their countries’ embassies of consulates.

Immigration experts estimate more than 1.1 million undocumented residents are married to U.S. citizens, and administration officials say about half of them could benefit from the change, which would protect them from deportation and enable them to work while their applications are being processed.

Biden’s announcement came on the 12th anniversary of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and also enables DACA residents to secure longer-term work visas than those they can get now. This would give foreign-born residents who came here as children more stability and security.

Administration officials say they hope to start taking applications by the end of the summer.

Many immigrants and advocates are applauding the change, but it’s best not to get one’s hopes up. Opponents of the new policy, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, already have promised legal challenges, and an injunction issued upon such a lawsuit could push implementation past the November election. Donald Trump already has promised that “Joe Biden’s illegal amnesty plan will be ripped up and thrown out on the very first day what we’re back in office.”

Still, the new policy is welcome; it should have been composed sooner.

Applicants under the new policy surely will be vetted like all other visa applicants. It’s reasonable to assume that those who have lived here 10 years without violating any laws have proven that they likely already are contributing to their communities and will continue to do so.

More importantly, before Trump first took office our stated immigration policy placed a premium on keeping families together. Biden’s announcement is a worthwhile move back toward that preference of not disrupting families and the communities in which they live, work and contribute, both socially and economically.

We can certainly question Biden’s motives in a tight race that could hinge on voters’ opinions on immigration policy. Regardless, this is the right thing to do. It’s a shame that respect for the immigrants who built this country, and the families that are our country’s core, didn’t seem to be such a priority earlier in his administration.