Under the change, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer initiate the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans in good standing. The immigrants must also be under 30 and have clean criminal records.
The policy, while not granting any permanent legal status, clears the way for young illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, work legally and obtain driver’s licenses and many other documents they have lacked.
“They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in announcing the new policy in the White House Rose Garden on Friday. He said he was taking “a temporary stopgap measure” that would “lift the shadow of deportation from these young people” and make immigration policy “more fair, more efficient and more just.”
This is sort of a "Dream Act Lite" in that it is temporary and does not offer a path to citizenship, but the criteria for inclusion are essentially the same. The Migration Information Source had calculated that the Dream Act could affect as many as 1.3 million young people currently living in the US.
The move was seen by many as simply a political ploy for President Obama to hang onto the Latino vote in the upcoming election, combatting the fact that his administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than almost all previous administrations. Since this is an executive order, not a result of legislation, there is a clear incentive for everyone in favor of this move to get out the vote in November to make sure that the same executive is in office for a while longer. In the meantime, the logistics of handling things on a case-by-case basis would seem to suggest that a relatively small number of people will really be affected between now and the November election.