President Obama will announce an executive order this morning that will stop 1 million undocumented young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act from being deported.
Under the president’s “deferred action” executive order, students in the U.S. who are already in deportation proceedings or those who qualify for the DREAM Act and have yet to come forward to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, will not be deported and will be allowed to work in the United States.
To be eligible for the deferral, applicants must be between 15 and 30 years old, live in the United States for 5 years, maintain continuous residency, and have no felonies or serious misdemeanors and less than three minor misdemeanors on their record. An estimated 1 million people are expected to benefit from the deferral, which will last for two years and can be renewed.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement:
Our Nation’ s immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner. 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. Indeed, many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.
Obama’s move comes after multiple attempts to pass the DREAM Act were blocked by Republicans in Congress. Outflanking the bill’s opponents through an executive order fits with the president’s campaign message of “We Can’t Wait,” and also puts significant pressure on his opponent Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor’s vocal opposition to the DREAM Act is one of the many hardline anti-immigration policies that has contributed to his massive deficit among Latino voters.