Bravo. The Obama administration has announced that it will halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and who do not have a criminal record, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The move that could prove important in a presidential campaign that will turn in part on who wins over Latino voters. Effective immediately, young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 will be allowed to apply for work permits as long as they have no criminal history and meet other criteria, officials said.
The change the White House announced Friday would allow illegal immigrants under the age of 30 to stay and work in the country if they don’t pose a national security or public safety risk. Those who meet the criteria will be eligible to apply for deferred action on deportation for a period of two years, and that status will be renewable, one official said. They also will be able to apply for authorization to work.
The policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.
The announcement comes on the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Plyler vs. Doe. That's when SCOTUS struck down a Texas statute denying funding for education to undocumented immigrant children.
TIME's cover story this week "We Are Americans—Just Not Legally" takes on the DREAM ACT and undocumented immigrant youth. Jose Antonio Vargas, who is gay and undocumented, wrote the cover article. Vargas tweets that he is ineligible for the new policy.