It looks like President Obama just gave Daniela Pelaez and as many as 800,000 undocumented immigrant children a reprieve. They can stay. They can study. They can work.
The news leaked ahead of the official announcement Friday that the administration will bypass Congress and halt the deportations of those immigrants who came here illegally as children but have lived law-abiding lives since. They'll also be granted renewable work permits valid for two years at a time.
Citing two unidentified senior administration officials, the Associated Press reported that "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
"Obama planned to discuss the new policy Friday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden," the Times reported.
The policy change comes just one day after a leading Republican vowed to oppose versions of the DREAM Act proposed by two of his own party's Latino members.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, whose name is often mentioned on the short list of possible vice presidential picks for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, has talked about putting forth a version of the act that would allow undocumented children to pursue college and apply for residency. His close friend, U.S. Rep. David Rivera of Florida, presented his version of the plan last month, called "Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act," or STARS, which would allow the youths to eventually apply for citizenship.
Rep. Steve King, vice chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, told Fox News Latino that Rivera's bill "meets the definition of amnesty."
Republicans filibustered to block passage of a Democratic DREAM Act in 2010. That plan would have granted citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants who completed two years of college or military service.
Romney vowed to veto the DREAM Act if he becomes president.
According to the AP:
"The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies."
The report went on to offer a few details, including, "Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and 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. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed."
Several immigrant groups had been calling on the president and congress to take action.
Republican presidential candidates alienated Hispanics across the country with their harsh immigration rhetoric during the primary. They were finally pressured by senior party members to tone down their attacks.
The case of Daniela Pelaez, a South Florida high school valedictorian with dreams of studying medicine, gained national attention after she was threatened with deportation. Brought into the United States as a toddler, she was eventually granted a two-year stay.
The president's proposal would presumably allow her to stay indefinitely and complete her college education.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison