By The Associated Press

The Obama administration has approved the first group of young illegal immigrants who will be able to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit.

In an email obtained by the AP yesterday, a DHS official told a congressional staff member that the first notifications were being made this week.

The official said about 72,000 applications had been received since the program's Aug. 15 start.

The delayed deportation program is available for young adults brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were under-age children. They must meet a list of criteria for eligibility.

An estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants may be eligible for the program, federal officials have said.