WASHINGTON, June 15, 2012- The Obama Administration announced today it would suspend the deportation of young people brought to the United States illegally.
According to the directive from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the policy change will apply to those who came to the United States before they were 16 and who are younger than 30 if they have lived here for five years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the military.
The policy, announced during the President Barack Obama’s reelection fight against Republican Mitt Romney and with Hispanic voters in key swing states, could allow as many as 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally to remain in the country without fear of being deported and to work legally. The policy does not grant citizenship and will apply to individuals who are already in deportation proceedings, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The President claimed the new policy “is not amnesty, immunity, a path to citizenship,” but a stopgap measure.
"It is the right thing to do for the American people, and here's the reason: because these young people are already making extraordinary contributions to our society,” President Obama said during a news conference today.
The policy incorporates portions of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, opposed by most Republicans in Congress.
“On top of providing amnesty to those under 30 years old, the administration now will be granting work authorizations to illegal immigrants at the same time young Americans face record-high unemployment rates,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a statement today.
Grassley called the President's action “an affront to the process of representative government by circumventing Congress.”
However, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the measure is temporary and limited by current law, and that the “onus is now on Congress to permanently fix our broken immigration system.”
Reid called on Republicans in Congress to help pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. He said the President’s action is justified for young illegal immigrants.
“They belong to this country culturally and linguistically and are American in all but paperwork,” he said.
Grassley said the President put election-year politics “above responsible policies.”
“Americans also deserve to know how this amnesty program for hundreds of thousands of people will be funded, and whether resources for border security and enforcement will be diverted,” Grassley added.
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