President Barack Obama plans to describe the steps he will take to fix the immigration system in an address to the nation on at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, the White House said on its Facebook page Wednesday.
"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long," Obama said in a video announcement posted to the website.
"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," he said.
Obama also said he will travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas on Friday to discuss his action. The school was where he first laid out his ideas for immigration reform two years ago, he said.
Republicans have been lining up a response strategy while activists are managing their expectations.
Under the executive action plan, Obama would ease immigration rules on millions of undocumented immigrants, a source familiar with White House deliberations has told Reuters.
The order, which will set up a showdown between the White House and Republicans in Congress, would give relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or of permanent legal residents, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.
According to Politico,
congressional leaders and potential Republican presidential candidates are preparing legislation and arguments to deploy an effective public offensive, while attempting to avoid turning off Hispanic voters.
Former, and possibly future, presidential candidate Rick Santorum said the party should focus on the negative economic impact of a policy that could give as many as five million illegal immigrants access to work permits.
"Is this a constitutional crisis? Yes," the former Pennsylvania senator told Politico. "But we have to put it in terms of … what it means to average working Americans. At a time when the economy is struggling and wages are stagnant, you're dumping 5 million people into the workforce."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a potential 2016 contender, has said the GOP should emphasize that unilateral action ignores the will of the people who voted against the Democrats in the midterm elections.
"The American people overwhelmingly rejected his policies all across the country," Jindal told Politico. "In previous cycles, he said elections have consequences. Talk about arrogance."
The Republican National Committee will likely focus on the contradictory messages the president has made about the scope of his authority to act in changing immigration law.
"We don’t know how far he'll go," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, told Politico.
"But we do know it's always been about politics and we're going to make sure Americans know that Obama himself said the action he's contemplating 'would be very difficult to defend legally' just two years ago."
It was not yet clear which parents of citizens or permanent residents would be included, the source said, and the Obama administration had been looking at options including those parents who have been living in the United States for five years or 10 years.
The reported trip would come after a top Obama aide is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats on Thursday. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is likely to be pressed on the immigration issue in the closed-door luncheon.
Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have been urging Obama to move quickly on immigration. Some have pointed to his failure to take executive action on the immigration as costing Democrats votes in this month's congressional elections, setting up a Republican sweep in the midterms.
Obama has warned Republicans in Congress that he would act unilaterally if they continue to block comprehensive immigration legislation.
But Congressional lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering piecemeal legislation to try to demonstrate that the party has its own strategic plan beyond simple opposition to the president, Politico reported.
One bill could focus on border security while another could center on expanding the number of high-tech visas. Other measures could try to defund the president's proposals or require Obama to enforce existing immigration laws.
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on Monday, former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales urged the president to engage Congress in hammering out an immigration deal instead of issuing his own executive order.
"Even assuming that in fact he has the authority, I don't think it's the right thing to do at this juncture," Gonzales said on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"It's a temporary solution to a very serious problem. It makes it more difficult to get comprehensive immigration reform in the future going forward."
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Meanwhile, immigration rights activists are trying to manage their expectations about the scope of the president's plans after administration officials began prepping them in calls on Tuesday, The Hill reported.
"They're setting expectations, making it clear he has the legal authority to do what he's going to do, but that he's not going beyond his authority, as some advocates would like," one source familiar with the calls told The Hill.
The White House has still not revealed any specifics of the president's planned action and White House domestic policy council director, Cecelia Munoz, said Obama was still making decisions about the content and timing of his announcement, The Hill said.
"He's going to go as far as he can under the law," Munoz told MSNBC, according to The Hill.
Sources have said Obama is expected to take actions to allow some undocumented people to live here at least temporarily without the threat of deportation and to hold jobs in the United States. Obama's executive order could also include further border security steps, they said.
Obama also is expected to stress that he wants to focus efforts on deportations of illegal residents with serious criminal backgrounds.
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