"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
DHS said it will continued to "focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders."
Napolitano told reporters on Friday that the new policy did not amount to amnesty.
Senior administration officials admitted that the deferral waivers, which would have to be renewed every two years, would allow a future administration to treat the same population differently.