Bypassing Congress, President Obama announced today the implementation of his own version of the DREAM Act that will begin granting work permits to as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, graduated from high school, and stayed out of trouble with the law.
The new policy will grant immunity from deportation to "illegal immigrants [who] 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." It will also allow them to apply for a two-year work permit that can be repeatedly renewed if they stay out of trouble.
How is Obama's election-year move possible? A memo by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano describes the new policy as a matter of "prosecutorial discretion":
Our Nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner. They are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Indeed, many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.[dailyintel]
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