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DREAM Act stalled, Obama halts deportations for young illegal immigrants (+video)

Obama announced a policy directive to halt the deportation of young immigrants brought to the US illegally. With Congress sharply divided on the DREAM Act, the politically charged move should help the president with Latino voters.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a new policy Friday, that will make about 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children safe from deportation proceedings, and may make them eligible for work permits.
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The Obama administration issued a politically charged policy directive Friday that will make about 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children safe from deportation proceedings, and may make them eligible for work permits.

[Editor's Note: The original version of this story misstated the nature of the policy change made by the Obama administration. The change extends an existing policy of prosecutorial discretion in prioritizing the deportation of certain individuals rather than being an executive order. ]

The administration has been under considerable pressure to take action on the behalf of young immigrants, as Congress has been sharply divided about the DREAM Act, proposed legislation that grants conditional residency to select young people brought to the US illegally.

The policy comes as a relief for thousands of young people who are caught in a difficult situation where they consider the United States home but don’t have legal residency. It also should help President Obama – locked in a difficult reelection battle – with Latino voters, who have criticized the administration’s deportation policies.

The new policy will not provide any pathway to permanent residency, but should energize both immigration activists and opponents as the election approaches.

In recent weeks, young activists who call themselves “dreamers” have occupied Obama campaign offices around the country to call for action.

The policy was announced Friday morning by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

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