President Obama said his administration will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements because “it’s the right thing to do.”
“We are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids,” Obama said from the Rose Garden Thursday, explaining his administration’s abrupt policy change. “This is the right thing to do for the American people.”
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation. Those eligible must pose no criminal or security threat.
“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they are friends with our kids,” Obama said. “They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds — in every single way but one: On paper.”
Obama said some children of undocumented immigrants don’t realize they are illegally in the U.S. until they apply for college or for a license.
“Imagine you have done everyhting right in your entire life,” he said, “only to suddenly face the threat of deportation.”
A reporter shouted a question at Obama in the middle of his remarks, and Obama, visibly irritated, rebuked him.