The Obama administration has announced plans to stop deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children as long as they have stayed out of trouble with the law.

 

The policy change will offer an estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. under age 16 and meet certain criteria the opportunity to apply for deferred action, protection from deportation, and the right to apply for work permits.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Democrats and immigrant advocates are praising the announcement, but Republicans say Obama is doing an end-run around Congress.

Texas Congressman Lamar Smith says Obama is granting amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants, which he says "ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy."

Smith and other Republicans say it's an obvious election year ploy to get votes from the Hispanic community.