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Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children will no longer be subject to deportation, according to a statement released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security highlighting a policy change for the Obama administration on immigration.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in the statement.
Eligible individuals may receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They also will be eligible to apply for work permits. The policy takes effect immediately and may affect as many 800,000 immigrants who are subject to deportation, according to the Associated Press.
The new rules apply to those age 30 and younger who came to the United States before the age of 16 and have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years. They must either be currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or received a GED certificate.
They also may not have have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The move achieves part of the goals set out in the so-called DREAM Act, the failed Congressional legislation that would have established a path toward citizenship for young illegal immigrants who attend college or serve in the U.S. military.
The president was scheduled to make remarks about the policy change at the White House Friday afternoon.
We’ll have more on this story on tonight’s NewsHour. In the meantime, some additional coverage on the DREAM Act:
NewsHour Connect: Democrats Tighten DREAM Act, Hoping to Appeal to GOP | December 2, 2010
- NewsHour: DREAM Act’s Merits, Drawbacks and Future Debated | December 8, 2010