The Obama Administration announced on Friday (June 15) plans to halt the deportation of and grant work permits to younger undocumented immigrants.
This decision comes a week before President Barack Obama plans to speak at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican candidate, Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak there on Thursday.
According to Homeland Security, this initiative will only grant work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before they were 16 and are younger than 30, and who have been in the country for five consecutive years. The criteria further states individuals need to be law abiding citizens, attending or graduating high school, college, obtaining their GED, or serving in the military. The work permit is only good for two years, but there’s not a limit to how many times it can be renewed.
"Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," stated Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a written memorandum. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
The Republicans have yet to comment on this new policy, but an outcry is expect to soon follow. Mitt Romney wants to tighten up border security before making changes in immigration law. While he opposes offering legal status to undocumented immigrants in college, Romney is open to granting citizenship to those serving in the military.
The Obama Administration’s plan will do away with the possibility of being deported for those eligible, but doesn’t promise citizenship. Undocumented immigrants aren't eligible to apply until they are 16, but according to officials, those younger aren't in danger of being deported either. Officials insist this plan is part of an evolving plan to approach this issue of immigration.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Napolitano.