Illegal immigrants across the country and in Minnesota are reacting to news that some will not face deportation. Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security will allow people younger than 30 who were brought to this country as children to stay.
However, some caution the action is only temporary and there are restrictions.
Earlier this summer, University of Minnesota computer science student Alexander Della Polla got a great offer to be an intern at a big corporation.
Della Polla, 21, is here illegally. So he turned the offer down.
"I'm very excited to call them back," he said.
Now, Della Polla meets qualifications laid out by the Obama administration to stay and work in the country. His parents brought him to the U.S. from Venezuela when Della Polla was about 8 years old. He is in school and says he doesn't have a criminal record. When Della Polla heard the announcement today, he says he cried.
"For the first time I can actually plan out my life, I can get a driver's license, and I can do all these things I wasn't able to," Della Polla said.
It's not clear how many people in Minnesota will be affected by Obama's directive.
But John Keller at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota said he has been inundated with calls from current or former clients.
"Through really one stroke of the president's pen, the country's attitude towards their welcome here is changed. Our aging state and our aging demographics need these young folks who will be both college students, and then workers."
Keller said federal immigration agents have already contacted his office about deportation cases that may now be deferred.
Obama's directive, however, only offers protection from deportation for two years, Keller said. And it doesn't include a path to citizenship.
Minneapolis lawyer Jorge Saavedra advises caution to the immigrants contacting him. He said final decisions are still up to federal officials on a case-by-case basis.
"You better get some good advice first," Saavedra said. "Otherwise, you know, in effect what people would be doing is turning themselves in to immigration."
Republicans say Obama's decision was politically motivated and will put a financial burden on state governments. State Rep. Steve Drazkowski. R-Mazeppa, said it may affect the way Minnesotans vote in the upcoming presidential election.
"I think this is going to be a wakeup call for Minnesotans as they look at what this means not only to the physical security of people but the economic security which is just so much at risk and seems to really have been completely ignored by our president."
There are many in Minnesota who won't benefit from Obama's directive, which only applies to people younger than 30. At age 33, an illegal immigrant named Emilia missed the cut-off. MPR News agreed not to use Emilia's last name because she is afraid of being deported.
"I wish he could've done it before," Emilia said. "To me, my fear is being apart from my family, being taken away from my daughter."
Emilia says she still has hope. Years as an illegal immigrant have taught her patience, she said.