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via CNN

In a scene unfolding in many Latino communities throughout the country, the graduation ceremony at Garcia High School in Chicago was especially celebratory Saturday: 20% of the graduating seniors are illegal immigrants who can now put their education to use with work permits authorized by President Obama‘s new immigration rules.

“What the president did this week was an amazing gift to me and other students who are undocumented,” graduating senior Andrea Labra, 18, told CNN.

“It’s just an emotional thing to have the same opportunities that other students have and that we didn’t have just because we didn’t have papers,” added Labra, who was born in Mexico and came to the United States at age 5 with her family.

For the class of 2012, the routine tossing of mortarboards in the air was more emotional than anticipated, said classmate Rodrigo Espinoza, 18, who’s also an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. His family brought him to the United States when he was 3 months old.

“It’s so unexpected,” Espinoza said of Obama’s executive order, announced Friday. “It’s like a dream. I can finally do something with my life now.”

“This is going to change my life. It was a life-changing experience for all of us and for my family,” he added about the new immigration rules announced Friday.

Juan Rangel, the leader of Chicago’s largest Hispanic advocacy organization that runs Hector P. Garcia High and 10 other city charter schools, said the White House announcement was “a high note for the graduating ceremony.”

“It’s a timely announcement, and it’s coming at the end of the school year,” Rangel said.

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Article courtesy cnn.com

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