WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday, Nov. 30, night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.”
The moves, affecting mostly parents and young people, marked the most sweeping changes to the nation’s fractured immigration laws in nearly three decades and set off a fierce fight with Republicans over the limits of presidential powers.
In a televised address to the nation, President Obama defended the legality of his actions and challenged GOP lawmakers to focus their energy not on blocking his actions, but on approving long-stalled legislation to take its place.
“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” President Obama said, flexing his presidential powers just two weeks after his political standing was challenged in the midterm elections.
As President Obama addressed the nation from the White House, immigration supporters with American flags draped over their shoulders marched on the street outside carrying signs that read, “Gracias, Presidente Obama.”
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