THE BRONX - Many illegal immigrants who were facing deportation despite having no criminal record will be allowed to stay in the country and apply for a work permit under new rules from the Department of Homeland Security.

?I believe it is a step in the right direction? but more work needs to be done, says state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx).

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday that the department will focus on deporting illegal immigrants who are criminals or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

?I feel like [President Obama] is just trying to get the Latino vote,? said Chris Chavez, of the NYC Youth Leadership. AP wire services were used in this report.