Obama takes one step closer to Dream Act: Young illegal immigrants no longer are deported

By Justine Espersen

As of this morning, the Obama administration announced they will stop deporting young illegal immigrants and begin granting work permits to those who came as children and have been law-abiding people.

According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, this policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. This is another step towards the Dream Act, which involves a hope to gain citizenship for young people who came to the United Sates illegally but have attended college or served in the military.

“We should not forget that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” Napolitano said. “With respect to these young people, deferred action, the decision I announced today, [is] simply the right thing to do.”

Illegal immigrants cannot be deported if they were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five consecutive years, without criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or have a G.E.D. or served in the military. They can apply for a work permit, good for two years with no limits on renewal, according to the Associated Press.

However, details regarding how the program will work, how much money will be required for immigrants to pay and what poof is necessary are still being worked out.

This decision may give President Obama an advantage in winning the vote of Latino voters. The announcement was made a week before President Obama’s address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual conference in Orlando, Fla.