The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin giving work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives.
The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of a growing Latino electorate that has opposed administration deportation policies.
The administration's decision will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. Two senior administration officials described the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of its expected announcement Friday.
Illegal immigrants will avoid deportation and be eligible for work permits if they arrived in the U.S. before age 16, are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. It does not include a pathway to citizenship.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano says the new rule is not amnesty. Click here to read her letter to U.S. immigration officials.
Austin Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, disagrees and says the Obama Administration is ignoring the rule of law.
“President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people. It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy. This huge policy shift has horrible consequences for unemployed Americans looking for jobs and violates President Obama’s oath to uphold the laws of this land.
“President Obama’s amnesty only benefits illegal immigrants, not Americans, and is a magnet for fraud. Many illegal immigrants will falsely claim they came here as children and the federal government has no way to check whether their claims are true. Once these illegal immigrants are granted deferred action, they can then apply for a work permit, which the Administration routinely grants 90% of the time.
“How can the Administration justify allowing illegal immigrants to work in the U.S. when millions of Americans are unemployed? President Obama and his administration once again have put partisan politics and illegal immigrants ahead of the rule of law and the American people. With this track record, it’s looking more likely that even President Obama may lose his job in this economy when Americans go to the polls this November.”
President Obama will make an announcement about the new rule at 12:15pm from the Rose Garden. You can watch it live on YNN.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.