Illegal immigrants who came to America as children can start applying for legal status this month, and the first two-year work permits will be granted this fall, reports the Los Angeles Times. Federal officials, announcing details of President Obama's controversial policy shift, say forms will be available online by August 15 and each application will require a fee of $465. Up to 800,000 people are believed to be eligible for the deportation exemption, which applies to illegal immigrants under 30 who were brought to the US before they were 16, are high school graduates, and don't have criminal records, notes the Miami Herald.
Republicans accused the president of putting the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of those of US citizens, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described the move as a compassionate approach to people who grew up as Americans, ABC reports. Immigration laws "must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner" she said in a statement. "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."