WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is easing enforcement of immigration laws, effective immediately. The new policy offers a chance for hundreds of thousands of younger illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and work.
The change was immediately embraced by Hispanics, but criticized by congressional Republicans.
The policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the "DREAM Act."
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.
The president made his announcement in the White House Rose Garden. Midway through his remarks, Obama was interrupted by a reporter from a conservative online publication. Neil Munro of the Daily Caller shouted, "Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?" Clearly irritated, Obama said that he was explaining the policy, not looking for an argument, and that the change was the "right thing to do for the American people."