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Napolitano says more than 3,000 illegal immigrants applying daily under deportation reprieve plan

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FILE: April 5, 2011: Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administers an oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony in New York. (AP)

More than 3,000 young illegal immigrants are applying daily to take part in the administration's new deportation reprieve policy, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week.

Napolitano said a total of roughly 200,000 people have applied since the agency began accepting applications two months ago.

She made the announcement Wednesday to a panel of educators from across the country who serve on the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, as reported by The Hill newspaper.

The agency began accepting applications after President Obama in June made the policy change -- after failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform and during an election year in which he will again need the Latino vote to help him win.

The group accounts for more than half of the U.S. population.

The growing numbers suggest that whether Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected, either will have to further deal with the change.

Romney has been critical of the administration's policy, but has said if he is elected, he would not revoke permits granted under the change. He has also said his immigration reform plan would make deferred action unnecessary.

"Our immigration system is broken," Romney has said.

Napolitano announced earlier this year the agency would focus its resources on deporting illegal immigrants who are the most serious.

The change allows people under 31 who were brought the United States illegally by their parents to remain in the country for at least two years and get a temporary work permit. And the two-year permit can be renewed.

Applicants cannot have committed a felony or have been convicted of more than two misdemeanors. They also must have lived in the U.S. for the past five years, have graduated from high school or received an equivalent diploma, or been honorably discharged from the military.

Romney agrees that with the military clause.