Step Toward Reform?

The White House will halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants and in some cases give them work permits, in a sweeping new initiative announced by the Department of Homeland Security. People under 30 who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas when they were under the age of 16 will be immune from deportation if they have not committed a significant misdemeanor or felony and have graduated from a U.S. high school or joined the military. They can apply for a renewable two-year work permit, which will not provide a path to citizenship but will allow them to work legally in the country. Applicants will have to prove they have lived in the country for five consecutive years. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the move “is the right thing to do,” and will help the agency focus on deporting criminals. “It is not immunity; it is not amnesty,” she said. “It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system.”

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