The Obama administration announced on Friday that it would no longer seek the deportation of most young illegal immigrants, and would instead allow them to apply for work permits, a significant policy shift with potentially major electoral implications.
The Department of Homeland Security said that, effective immediately, the government would no longer seek the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and would allow them to apply for work permits if they meet certain criteria.
The decision was intended to make America’s immigration system “more fair, more efficient and more just,” President Barack Obama said in an afternoon statement in the Rose Garden.
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“They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and oftentimes had no idea they were undocumented until they applied for a job,” the president said. “They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds … in every single way but one: on paper.”
President Obama announces that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer seek the deportation of many young illegal immigrants.
A senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters that as many as 800,000 undocumented immigrants stand to benefit from this change.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the shift represented neither immunity nor amnesty — buzzwords for conservatives who oppose illegal immigration — but instead represented an instance of “prosecutorial discretion” in which the government had re-evaluated its priorities in enforcing the law.
“This is not amnesty; this is not immunity; this is not a path to citizenship,” Obama said, calling today’s move a “temporary fix.”
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