The change was not imposed by executive order. Instead, it effectively extends an existing policy of “prosecutorial discretion,” in which immigration officials last year were instructed to prioritize the removal of felons, repeat border crossers and others considered to be security risks. Officials said the government would continue its aggressive enforcement policies but with greater care not to remove young people who came as children.
The administration announced the new policy a week before Obama was scheduled to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual conference near Orlando. Romney is scheduled to speak to the group Thursday, as are Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a Dream Act supporter who has also urged the GOP to soften its rhetoric on immigration. It also comes in advance of a Supreme Court ruling on the controversial Arizona immigration law.
Arturo Vargas, executive director of the NALEO group, said Friday he was unsure whether the policy would have the effect that advocates had hoped for, noting that immigrants would have to step forward to apply with no guarantee of success.