Obama Bypassing Congress, Granting Work Permits to Young People Here Illegally

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL and JIM KUHNHENN | June 15, 2012 | 9:57 AM EDT

A demonstrator, who wished not to give his name, rallies in front of the Georgia Capitol Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Atlanta. A May Day rally at the Capitol Tuesday that organizers called a “historic coming together” of immigrants and working people was significantly smaller than in recent years, drawing only about 100 people. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives.

The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation.

It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.