Tiny Explainer: President Obama's DREAM Act Executive Order

How exactly did President Obama change immigration enforcement?

Earlier this summer, the Obama Administration issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security that changed how American immigration law is enforced.

How?

President Obama has long been a supporter of the DREAM Act, a proposed law that would give legal status to the small subset of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States before they turned 16 years old, are no older than 30, have been in the U.S. for at least five years, have been convicted of no serious crime, and have a high-school diploma, a GED, or a stint in the U.S. military.

The law has yet to pass Congress. But the directive issued by the Obama Administration grants folks who'd be eligible for the DREAM Act a reprieve from deportation and work-authorization papers. It doesn't grant citizenship or legal status. It went into effect in mid-August, when illegal immigrants who believe themselves to be eligible could start applying to be covered.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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