The Obama Administration announced today that it plans to halt the deportation of undocumented youth who were brought here before the age of 16. It also will grant them work permits.
This is essentially the DREAM Act, which Congress has not been able to pass for the last 10 years.
It comes just in time for the election. Is it a political ploy?
Many Latino voters are very upset as the Obama administration has deported more than one million undocumented workers in the last three years.
President Obama has long supported the DREAM Act, and this move could help smooth over some of that anger with Latino voters. But it all depends on the details of the policy.
As many as 800,000 undocumented youth could be impacted. It would benefit youth who lived here more than five years and have no criminal records. This policy will grant two-year work permits but is is unclear what happens after that.
President Obama will speak about the policy change at the White House this afternoon.
The permits would be renewable but not lead to U.S. citizenship. This is risky as the immigrants might feel that relegates them to a second-class status.
These are youth educated in U.S. public schools, who graduate from high school, and many go on to college. But when they graduate they have no option to work and contribute to society and the economy.
Expect the Republicans to attack the policy. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has advocated a policy of self-deportation for undocumented immigrants.
He has indicated limited support for the DREAM Act but only for youth who complete two years of military service. The proposed DREAM Act legislation would have granted legal status to youth who complete two years of college or military service.
Also, some undocumented youth may be reluctant to come forward. If Romney wins the election, he could reverse the policy and deport them.
But Romney also has to be careful and not alienate Latino voters. So far only around 25 percent have indicated support for him below the 31 percent support Latinos gave Sen. John McCain and the more the 44 percent given to President George W. Bush.
The "Dreamers," or DREAM Act youth, are culturally American. They want to contribute to this country. This announcement helps them but it is not a permanent solution if it won't eventually make them equal and full U.S. citizens.