The Obama administration will stop deporting most young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and will allow them to apply for work permits, MSNBC reported Friday morning.
"Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people," President Obama said during a press conference at the White House Friday.
The police protects all undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and are younger than 30 from being deported. It also protects those young immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED. Those immigrants who served in the military are also protected in the policy.
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Up to 1.4 million children and young adults who are in the United States illegally could potentially benefit from the change in policy, according to an estimate from the Pew Hispanic Center.
Of those 1.4 million people, 700,000 are between the ages of 18 and 30, but arrived in the U.S. as children and are currently enrolled in school or who have graduated from high school. An additional 700,000 are under the age of 18, according to Pew.
During Friday's press conference, one member of the press interupted President Obama to ask if the policy was going to help legal American workers.
"Excuse me, sir," President Obama said. "It’s not time for questions."
The decision sparked comments from both sides of the immigration debate. Many critics say this will make it even harder for citizens to get jobs.
Others have dismissed it as nothing more than electioneering. The announcement comes one week before the president will address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla., MSNBC reported.
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