President Obama announces a major shift in immigration policy, one that would stop the deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. Our Washington, D.C. reporter Erin Billups has more now on the new policy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama said, “Effective immediately the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people."
Those young people are undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before they turned 16. Under the administration’s new policy called deferred action, they will get temporary relief from deportation proceedings, allowing those with clean records, aged 30 and under, to work and live legally in the U.S.
Obama said, "This is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stop gap measure."
Homeland Services estimates that roughly 800,000 immigrants will be eligible for deferred action, which then allows the agency to shift resources to focus solely on deporting those who pose a threat to public safety.
While it's a far cry from the permanent bill called the DREAM Act that stalled in Congress, immigration advocates applaud the new policy.
"We don’t see congress taking action on the much needed DREAM Act that would provide permanent relief for the dreamers. So this was an important time and a very welcome announcement from the administration," said Laura Vazquez, National Council of La Raza Immigration Legislative Analyst.
Still the timing of the election-year announcement, has some, especially those on the right questioning the President's motives and leadership.
"The way to do something is not to do it by executive fiat. I would prefer that he step off that campaign trail for an issue this serious and discuss it with Congress in a way that it should be discussed," said Rory Cooper, Heritage Foundation Communication Director.
Deferred action will be granted in two year increments and could be revoked under a new administration.