(UPI) — President Obama will announce an executive order to overhaul the country’s immigration system in a televised address Thursday, in which he is expected to suspend deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.
“Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken,” Obama said in a video posted on social media and to the White House website. “Unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long.”
“So 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 work better, even as i continue to work with congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.”
Last week, reports surfaced that the plan would allow the undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants to obtain work documentation, encompassing anywhere from 2.5 million to 5 million people.
The deferral program would be similar to one already in place, the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order, which allows people brought to the U.S. before a certain age to stay legally.
White House officials said Obama would likely provide the “30,000-foot view” of his executive order Thursday, then fill in details Friday on a trip to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, the same school where he announced his plan for reform two years ago.
In 2013, the Senate passed a path-to-citizenship bill, authored by four Republicans and four Democrats. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refused to consider the bill, even as Democrats insisted it would pass with Republican votes.
Now as the GOP prepares to take over the Senate majority, the party’s leadership have made their continued opposition clear.
“‘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,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.
The coming confrontation has stirred talk of another government shutdown, as Congress rushes to pass spending resolutions before the current funding expires on Dec. 11.
But incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expressed confidence Wednesday that a shutdown could be avoided.
“We have two goals here at the end of the session: fund the government and avoid retroactive tax increases,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll do both.”
But Republicans, in an effort to undercut the president’s statement of authority, have been sending around a list of 22 times Obama has said he didn’t believe he had the power to fix immigration on his own.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday may show Americans broadly agree.
While 57 percent of those surveyed said they support a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, just 38 percent say they believe Obama should take executive action without approval from Congress.