Erica Werner and Jim Kuhnhenn, Big Story, November 19, 2014
Sidestepping Congress, President Barack Obama on Thursday will announce steps he will take to shield up to 5 million immigrants illegally in the United States from deportation, defying Republican lawmakers who say such a step would poison relations with the new GOP led legislature.
Obama, in a video released on Facebook, said he would make his announcement from the White House at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, then would travel to Las Vegas to promote the plan Friday.
He said while everyone agrees the immigration system is broken, Washington has allowed the problem “to fester for too long.”
“What I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system better, even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem,” Obama said.
As many as 5 million people in the country illegally would be spared from deportation and made eligible for work permits. But the eligible immigrants would not be entitled to federal benefits–including health care tax credits–under the plan, officials said Wednesday.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that Obama’s executive actions will be comprehensive and include border security measures. He said he believes that immigration changes that Obama will announce are not only legal but needed in light of inaction by Congress on immigration.
House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman criticized Obama’s plans, noting that the president himself has said in the past that he is not “emperor” and is limited in his ability to act on his own.
“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue–and many others,” the spokesman, Michael Steel, said.
[Editor’s Note: The video below is a compilation of times Barack Obama insisted he could not act unilaterally on immigration.]