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Obama Announces Immigration Reforms, Offers Legal Status To 5m Migrants

US President Barrack Obama

Nearly five million people living illegally in the US can escape deportation under sweeping changes to the immigration system.

“Come out of the shadows and get right with the law,” urged President Barack Obama in a televised address.

Republicans say the action, without Congress, is beyond his authority and relations will now be poisoned.

There are about 11m illegal immigrants in the US and this year children coming across the border prompted a crisis.

Under the plan, undocumented parents of children who are US citizens or legal residents will be able to apply for work permits lasting three years.

Only parents who have lived in the US for five years will qualify – about 3.7m people are estimated to fit this criteria.

The president told the nation that what he is proposing is not amnesty.

“What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach,” he said.

Although the plan will allow millions to work, it won’t offer a path to citizenship or entitle them to the same benefits as Americans, he said.

“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the US illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The plan will also expand a 2012 programme that defers deportation for young people brought to the country illegally as children.


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