In a surprising move, President Obama ordered a major change in immigration enforcement. Young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as kids by their parents can now stay and work.
"It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans," said the president.
President Obama said he's making this change because congress would not, "This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving degree of relief and hope to talented driven patriotic young people. It's the right thing to do."
Under the new policy, work permits will be given to younger immigrants if they arrived in this country before age 16, 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.
It's a huge victory for Pedro Ramirez and Iliana Perez who have fought for immigration reform for years. They feared deportation, until the president’s announcement.
“It's very exciting. After so many years of fighting, of lobbying, just doing so much, it's amazing. It's great,” expressed Perez.
Ramirez said, “I'm speechless. At the same time, I'm thinking, better late than never Mr. President. You should have done this in 2010 when the Dream Act failed in the Senate. But it gave me a lot of hope.”
But they say the fight is still far from over. Perez explained, “Unfortunately, people like my parents will not be able to benefit from this so this is just the beginning.”
Ramirez added, “Until we see actual reform, I'm always going to be a little bit critical of Congress and the government.”
The new policy is expected to affect as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants. Critics said the Obama move is bad for American workers and principles. They say it simply rewards the illegal behavior and encourages the future flow of illegal aliens.
President Obama made clear: his plan does not offer illegal residents American citizenship.