Students, some wearing graduation caps and gowns, cry after watching from the senate gallery as opponents block passage of the "Dream Act" at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, December 18, 2010 REUTERS

President Barack Obama is set to unveil a policy that would shield many young undocumented immigrants from deportation, advancing the central thrust of the stalled DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, a top priority for immigration advocates, would open a path to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants who have clean criminal records and enroll in college or the military. The bill has foundered in Congress amid strident Republican opposition.

Obama's pending new policy would reportedly accomplish most of what the DREAM Act seeks to do by preventing the deportation of unauthorized immigrants younger than 30 who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have no criminal history and have graduated from high school or served in the military.

Those immigrants would also be eligible for work permits, stopping short of the DREAM Act's promise of citizenship but still granting a measure of legal status.

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