CHICAGO (CBS) — The federal government will stop deporting illegal immigrants under age 30 who were brought to the United States as children and have since led productive, law-abiding lives, President Obama announced Friday.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans,” Obama said.
The new initiative affects as many as 800,000 people, including a young woman who spoke to CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot.
The teen immigrant, who asked to be identified as Sylvia, was four years old when she came to the United States in 2000.
She says granting work permits to young immigrants like herself means the end of living in fear.
“I think it’s a good step that the U.S. has taken since, you know, I didn’t decide to come, my mom did,” Sylvia says. “We’ve gone through a lot of things.”
Sylvia says the move could be life-changing for her older brother, too, a good student who would like to receive scholarships.
The move by the Obama administration is seen as a partial achievement of the DREAM Act, a proposal to put young illegal immigrants on the path to U.S. citizenship.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady questions the timing of the Obama administration’s announcement. He said it’s an election-year stunt.
“The Obama campaign is 24/7 politics, and this is just another political stunt. There will be another giveaway next week on some other issue that he needs political support for,” Brady said.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, applauded the president’s plan.
“The president may have won some friends with his decision today, but there will be those who vote against him because of this decision, too,” Durbin said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
The Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. While Obama does have a large majority of the Hispanic vote, his administration has been criticized for its aggressive policy on deportation.