President Barack Obama's administration--having failed to get Congress to act to allow students in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own to remain--announced Friday that virtually no actions will be taken to deport them.
The move comes in an election year when the Hispanic vote in key battleground states will be important. It also comes after the student deportation legislation--known as the DREAM Act and championed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)--has been stalled for years. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has been vocally critical of Obama for the number of deportations on his watch.
The Obama administration--by going the non-legislative route--said students who met certain critieria could get permission to remain in the U.S. for two years--with a renewal option and a path to be granted work authorization.
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," said Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
The DHS criteria:
1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) 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;
3.) 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;
4.) 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;
5.) Are not above the age of thirty.