The Obama administration announced on Friday it would relax enforcement of deportation rules for young people brought to the United States without legal status, a shift in immigration policy that could be designed to appeal to Hispanics in an election year.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that people up to 30 years old who came to the United States as children and do not pose a risk to national security would be eligible to stay in the country and allowed to apply for work permits.
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," Napolitano said in a statement. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case."
Under the policy shift, young people who meet these five criteria would not be targeted for deportation:
Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- Are not above the age of thirty.
The move bears a striking similarity both to the failed DREAM Act and the DREAM alternative put forward by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.