U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the United States will stop deporting certain qualified young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Napolitano announced Friday that young immigrants who do not present a risk to national security or public safety and meet several other criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the U.S. and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
Napolitano said the nation's immigration laws are not designed to “remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.” President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak about the new policy later in the day.
To be eligible for deferred action on deportation, an immigrant must have been under the age of 16 when they came to the United States and have lived continuously in the country for at least five years. The individual cannot have a criminal history, must not be older than 30, and must also be currently in school, or a high school graduate or recipient of an equivalent degree, or a veteran of the U.S. military.
Those who meet the criteria can receive deferred action for two years, subject to renewal.
The Homeland Security Department says the action further enhances its ability to focus on what it called “priority removals,” including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons and repeat immigration law offenders.