As the New York Times reports:
The administration said the change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the "DREAM Act," legislation that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be able to avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.
Jed Lewison explains at Daily Kos that "unlike the DREAM Act, this move doesn't create a path to citizenship because that will require an act of Congress, but removing the threat of deportation from hundreds of thousands of law-abiding residents who came to America as children is still an important step towards achieving the goals of the DREAM Act."
Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel at MALDEF issued the following statement:
Today’s bold Obama Administration announcement holds out the promise of significant, even transformative, benefit to the entire nation by ensuring that some of our most capable and committed young people are finally given the opportunity to work and to safely contribute to our economic competitiveness and our national development. Today’s announcement is the clear product of the hard work of those same DREAM students to enlighten the nation and its policymakers.And what does Romney have to say about this? His typical obfuscation: "I think the action the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution because an executive is of course a short-term matter. It can be reversed by subsequent presidents." Of course, Romney won't say what his long-term solution is and when asked whether he would reverse Obama's new policy, he refused to answer.
We look forward to swift, fair, and comprehensive nationwide implementation of the important administrative steps announced today on this thirtieth anniversary of the prescient Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, which established the importance to our national future of educating all students.
This administrative action is consistent with the DREAM Act, supported by a majority of both houses of Congress in 2010 but blocked only through a craven Senate exercise of the hoary power of filibuster. Congress should move swiftly to enact the DREAM Act as a longterm guarantee and protection of the powerful national resource embodied in the DREAM student population.
We also call upon Governor Mitt Romney to commit, if elected, to following the wise national policy announced today as a policy that is in the clear best interests of the entire nation.