The Homeland Security Department said Thursday it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria such as attending school, having family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care.

The move, announced in letters to Congress, comes after Hispanic activists and Democrats had urged President Obama to exempt broad swaths of illegal immigrants from deportation while Congress wrestles with the issue.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases and see who meets the new criteria on a case-by-case basis.

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