President Obama has struggled to get his immigration goals through Congress; now his administration is instituting major reforms on its own. In a plan to be announced today, the White House won't deport illegal immigrants younger than 30 who came to the US before they were 16, so long as they fit several conditions: They must have been here for at least five straight years, have received a US high school diploma or GED or served in the military, and have no criminal record, officials tell the AP.
Though the new rules don't provide a path to citizenship, these immigrants will be able to apply for two-year, renewable work permits. The plan, which will affect some 800,000 people, aligns with key provisions in the DREAM Act, which was struck down by the Senate in 2010. Republicans will likely slam the administration's independent move, but "many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," says homeland security boss Janet Napolitano. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here." The effort comes as some Latinos voice frustration with Obama's deportation policies and ahead of the president's speech to Latino officials next week. (Read more President Obama stories.)