MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The president's remarks will have make a profound difference in the lives of the up to five million illegal immigrants many of which live in South Florida.
Miami is home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Many of them have been living in the shadows, until tonight.
There were applause, hugs and tears of joy between families whose life could change after the president's immigration announcement.
Christina Caicedo is a U.S. citizen, but her mom is not. For 12 long years, she's been living in the country illegally.
"We have to find a way to help my mom," said Caicedo.
Her Colombian born mother said she is out of the darkness now. The mom said she had to make ends meet by cleaning houses and cooking since she can't work in the U.S. legally.
Her mother said she came out of the shadows thanks to Obama and thanks to God.
She could qualify for a work permit and be free of the constant threat of deportation.
Many more families like these stand to benefit.
Local democrats like Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Shultz and Lois Frankel are giving their support but Republicans, both local and national, are criticizing the president for by-passing congress.
Senator Marco Rubio issued a statement saying the president's go it alone strategy will make immigration reform harder, and is quote "unfair to the people in the system who are doing things the right way."
Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart said the way the president is doing it is a problem.
"If you have folks that are willing to work with him, if you have the leadership of the new congress saying they want to tackle this issue, if you have the president of the United States saying the take away is that we need to work together. If all those things are true, why is the president taking unilateral action," said Diaz-Balart.
Even supporters of the president agree the action he took on his own without congress is a short-term fix.
"It's not going to be a long term solution.The solution still will have to be done by congress," said Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
Caicedo's mother said she is going to start the process immediately of gathering paperwork that shows she's lived in the U.S. for more than five years.
Once she has gained legal status, she says she's going to Colombia to visit her mother who she was afraid would die before she got to see her again.
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