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Mexicans hail Obama's call for a freeze on deporting young illegal immigrants (+video)

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(Read caption) Obama changes immigration policy
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Nothing raises the ire of Mexicans more than stories like this: a young Mexican, brought illegally to the US as a baby, is deported as a young adult back “home,” despite having no family ties in Mexico, and often not even speaking Spanish.

Now President Obama has taken a step hailed in Mexico: He's called for ending deportations – effective immediately – and beginning to grant work permits for young illegal immigrants who have been in the US since they were children.

“It is definitely a source of a lot of moral distress because the kids are American in their upbringing and their culture,” says David Mena Alemán, a professor of international affairs at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City. “Among people realistic in their views about immigration, this is a very good step forward.”

The plan was announced Friday by Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano, and has been described as a temporary fix. Illegal immigrants who are under age 30 but brought to the US before they were 16 are eligible for a deportation waiver and can apply for a two-year work permit. Those eligible must be in school or have a high school or equivalent degree. The policy also applies to those who have served in the military. All must be law-abiding, as well. It could affect some 800,000 immigrants.

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