UNDATED (CBS) -- The White House announces a big change in its immigration policy. The federal government will stop deporting younger illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and don't have a criminal history.
Students in Los Angeles are calling the new immigration policy a step in the right direction. Ricardo Muniz says, "I'm so happy inside and out i want to jump up and down and celebrate."
President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security 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 says, "it makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intense and purposes are Americans."
The new initiative affects as many as 800,000 young people including 23 year-old Ricardo Muniz. They can now apply for permits to work in the U.S. Legally. He describes what it was like living with the threat of deportation, "It was really scary, sometimes you go to sleep or sometimes you can't go to sleep but you keep looking at the window thinking ICE is coming and knock your door down and take you."
The new rules still do not provide a path to citizenship. So while students gathered here are celebrating the change they are still pushing for more reform.
Legislation called the dream act included that path toward citizenship but it never made it out of congress. Obama says, "Put the Dream Act on my desk and i will sign it."
Republicans are already criticizing the white house for going around Congress and call this a short term answer to a long term problem.
The president is rolling out the new policy in an election year and it's expected to play well with Latino voters in key swing states.
Under the new plan, illegal immigrants will be immune to deportation if they came to the U.S. when they were under 16. They have been in the country for at least five years, have no serious criminal history, are in school or graduated from high school or served in the military.