"She cried," said Saavedra, 27, who came illegally to the United States from Lima, Peru, when she was 14.
When her mother became a citizen, Saavedra was an adult, making her ineligible to become a naturalized citizen.
"I am happy beyond words," she said of the policy change. "It will offer me some sort of relief, but at the same time it doesn't offer me a path to permanent residency. We're going to keep fighting."
Reaction to the new immigration policy was mixed Friday, with advocates and immigrants hailing the decision and opponents blasting Obama for bypassing Congress by issuing an executive order.
"The administration is overstepping its authority by weakening immigration laws without congressional approval," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). "I am very concerned about efforts to administratively implement amnesty for countless illegal immigrants under the age of 30."
It's not known how many young adults on Long Island or in New York are affected by the policy change, but an estimated 5,500 students enrolled in the SUNY and CUNY systems are illegal immigrants, said Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of Long Island Wins of Old Westbury, which focuses on immigration issues. "This is a huge milestone for DREAMERS who have been fighting for years to lead a successful life here in America. It gives them hope," she said.
Children brought here illegally who are now young adults are commonly referred to as DREAMERS, derived from the DREAM Act immigration reform law.
Nadia Habib, 20, of Woodside, Queens, who is facing deportation, along with her mother, after living in the country for more than 18 years, called the change "a step forward."
The news surprised Milly, of Suffolk, who asked that her last name not be used for fear she and her family would be deported. Milly, 21, came to the United States from Peru with her parents and siblings a decade ago. Today, she is studying business at Suffolk County Community College.
"I have to see a document or something before I can believe it," she said of the change. "I am so happy, but I just want that confirmation."