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Tens of thousands of Minnesotans to be impacted by Biden's new citizenship plan

Minnesota family celebrates President Biden's new immigration policy
Minnesota family celebrates President Biden's new immigration policy 02:09

RICHFIELD, Minn. — As many as half a million people are breathing a sigh of relief about a newly announced citizenship plan from the White House, including tens of thousands in Minnesota.

For Daniel del Toro to get a green card, he's always known he'd have to go back to his native Mexico, possibly for many years.

It's part of the process undocumented immigrants must go through when applying for permanent residency.

Del Toro's been in the U.S. for decades and has a career as a carpenter. He's also raised a family in Richfield.

Del Toro and his wife, Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, say preparing their children for the possibility of his deportation has been the hardest thing.

"My kids were like, 'Oh my god, why?'" del Toro said. "'All your roots are here. You've been here more than 30 years. We don't understand why you have to leave.'"

Avalos has her green card, allowing her to live and work here freely. She hopes to gain citizenship next year.

Thanks to a new policy President Biden announced Tuesday, once she's a citizen, her husband won't have to leave the country.

All undocumented spouses of American citizens can stay as they wait for a green card, as long as they were already married and have been here 10 years without a criminal record.

"It was just emotional being able to finally say, 'Oh my dad is going to be safe. My mom is going to be safe,'" said Miranda del Toro, the couple's teenage daughter.

Julia Decker, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota's policy director, says the policy is a great step forward.

"This will offer an opportunity for the family to remain together while they go through this, often very long, process," she said.

Unidos MN, an immigrant advocacy group that Avalos is also the executive director of, estimates there are nearly 40,000 Minnesota families with mixed immigration statuses.

But experts say Biden's policy is likely to face legal challenges. There's also the possibility he loses the election. Families like the del Toros are bracing for Donald Trump potentially reversing the policy.

"There's one thing we always as a family have done, and that is organizing with others," Avalos said.

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