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President's immigration action could benefit thousands in Minnesota

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President Barack Obama will take executive action on the United States' immigration policy, he announced Thursday night, enacting new policies that could give as many as 5 million currently illegal immigrants the chance to avoid deportation and even get legal work permits, Politico reports.

In Minnesota, thousands of unauthorized immigrants could benefit from the actions – but it's unclear exactly where the number would fall.

Earlier this week, Pew Research estimated there are 95,000 illegal immigrants in Minnesota – making up about 2.5 percent of the state's workforce. They found 3 percent of K-12 students had parents who were not legally in the country.

The overall illegal immigrant population in the state was virtually unchanged from 2009-2012, Pew said.

As part of Obama's plan, illegal immigrants must have been in the country for five years, and have a child who is a U.S. citizen or in the country legally.

According to the Star Tribune, data from the Migration Policy Institute estimates about one-third of those immigrants in Minnesota have a child who is a citizen; and about 70 percent have lived in the country for at least five years.

But it's not clear how many of the state's 90,000-plus illegal immigrants meet both requirements, the paper reports.

(To be eligible, an immigrant would also have to pass a background check and pay taxes, according to the White House.)

The institute – which pegs the number of unauthorized immigrants in Minnesota at 91,000, slightly below Pew – does try put out an estimate, and says 40,000 or so in Minnesota may be eligible for temporary relief under the new policies.

A human rights advocate in the state told WCCO no matter the number, she expects more immigrants to begin reaching out for help.

Nationwide, Pew estimated there are 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The Migration Policy Institute has it at 11.4 million.

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