iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Nicholas Rasmussen, the acting director at the National Counterterrorism Center, painted a stark picture of what may lie ahead for U.S. efforts to protect the homeland from terrorists while testifying Thursday before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

In line to become the next full-time director of the counterterrorism agency, Rasmussen told lawmakers that the nation faces “broader array of threats from a greater variety of terrorist groups and individual actors than at any point since 9/11.”

Thirteen years ago, al Qaeda was regarded as the top threat to launch more attacks inside the U.S. However, Rasmussen said the danger to U.S. interests at home and abroad has been expanded to include so-called “lone wolves,” the Islamic State and Iran-sponsored terrorists.

In fact, he went as far as to say, “We’re far more at risk, presently, of attack from an individual homegrown violent extremist who may be inspired by, but not necessarily directed by,” the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen suggested that the renewal of sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Syria is being exploited by Iran in its backing of Shiite extremist groups, which are also considered a threat against the U.S.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Health and Human Services admitted Thursday that the actual number of people who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 30, 2014 was under the 7.3 million that the Obama administration reported.

The discrepancy was first pointed out by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee.

HHS spokesman Ben Wakana wrote in a statement Thursday that the corrected number of enrollees is 6.7 million.

Apparently, the administration mistakenly counted dental-only plans as well that numbered about 400,000. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the error was inadvertent and that an internal investigation is under way to discover what happened.

After the enrollment period earlier this year, the administration actually reported eight million enrollees in the Affordable Care Act, but revised the figure downwards when 700,000 people did not pay for their plans.

Republicans have renewed their battle to take apart the program they call “Obamacare,” particularly after one of its architects, Jonathan Gruber, said one of the reasons the law passed was due to the “stupidity” of U.S. voters.

The White House has disavowed Gruber’s remarks, saying it does not reflect the president’s opinion of Americans.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Thursday night, President Obama announced a sweeping executive action intended to secure the border while providing relief for an estimated 4.1 million undocumented family members of U.S. citizens and about 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

“Today, our immigration system is broken and everybody knows it,” the president said from the East Room of the White House. “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility and give their kids a better future?

“There are actions I have the legal authority to take as president — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me,” Obama boldly claimed, “that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It will fulfill, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

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The announcement set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It was also unleashed a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

“Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable,” Obama said. But, “let’s be honest — tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you.

“That’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day,” he said. “After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.”

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are attending school, have graduated high school or have served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal records, provide their biometric information and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits, he is claiming.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claimed it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Boehner’s comments refered to President Obama’s previous comments that he didn’t have the authority to make the moves he announced Thursday evening.

“I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not,” Obama said tonight. “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.”

But even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the President shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

“I know the politics of this issue are tough,” Obama said during his address. “But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs, without taking a dime from the government, and at risk at any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids.”

“I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers,” the president continued. “I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love. These people — our neighbors, our classmates, our friends — they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.”

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to announce a sweeping executive action to “secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” the White House announced in advance of the president’s 8 p.m. address to the nation Thursday night.

“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair,” President Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It fulfills, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” the president will say, according to excerpts. “And 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.”

The announcement is expected to set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It also no doubt will unleash a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are now attending school, have graduated high school or served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal record, provide their biometric information, and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claims it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

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ABC News(BOCA RATON, Fla.) — Republican governors huddled in Florida for their annual conference and a victory celebration to note their huge wins earlier this month during the midterm elections where they even gained seats in bright blue states, but the issue of immigration has overshadowed the party.

The Republican Governors Association conference being held this year at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club coincides with the news of the president’s intention to announce major executive action on immigration reform and through most of the events that were open to reporters the governors were pressed over and over on the topic. One thing was clear: they are sick of the issue or at least being asked about it.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who just won re-election and is a possible 2016 presidential contender, said today it was the press and the president who were “obsessed” with the issue.

“This didn’t just come about in the last two weeks. All the media acted like this came up since the election,” Walker said, noting he believes no Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidate even dealt with the issue that much on the campaign trail. “I would argue actually, most of the U.S. senators didn’t talk about that and yet you have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done to try and get you to divert your attention away from the real issues in this country.”

Walker stressed he and other governors here got elected because they are “actually talking about issues that people care about in our states.”

“You can keep asking about it, but that doesn’t change the fact… we responded to the issues people care about instead of obsessing over the things you are talking about now that aren’t even in the top 10 list of most Americans,” Walker said at a press conference with several other governors, including two other possible 2016 contenders Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Kasich, who sounded a more moderate tone over immigration at Wednesday’s events, said he hopes the president’s action is a “really small one,” adding he would tell President Obama: “Do what you feel you absolutely have to do, but you can’t go so far.”

These governors know whatever they say about immigration could put them on shaky political ground when it comes to 2016. It’s an issue Mitt Romney had to deal with in 2012 and no Republican candidate wants to have to face in a general election in 2016. GOP candidates routinely make more conservative points during the primaries, especially on the issue of immigration, in order to win the more conservative voting base. Of course, it’s not always easy to moderate in the general election as Romney’s “self-deportation” comments proved.

That’s another reason why changing the topic could be quite helpful.

On Wednesday, many of the country’s most watched governors came together for an event titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead” and the majority of the event focused on immigration and the president’s pending action. After almost half of the event was completely focused on the issue, it was clear the governors were getting antsy.

Jindal even tried himself to move the conversation to another topic saying to moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd: “We’ve now spent 30 minutes talking about the president breaking the law.”

He wasn’t the only governor on the stage tired of the topic. To laughs from the crowd, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Todd: “Here’s what I’m thinking: You will probably not be invited to do a moderation for a presidential debate.”

The governors also met with donors and discussed strategy in private meetings at the pink-colored resort during the gathering. The party heads into January with 31 governorships, the most for either party in 16 years.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to announce a sweeping executive action to “secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” the White House announced in advance of the president’s 8 p.m. address to the nation Thursday night.

“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair,” President Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It fulfills, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” the president will say, according to excerpts. “And 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.”

The announcement is expected to set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It also no doubt will unleash a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are now attending school, have graduated high school or served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal record, provide their biometric information, and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claims it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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ABC News(BOCA RATON, Fla.) — Republican governors huddled in Florida for their annual conference and a victory celebration to note their huge wins earlier this month during the midterm elections where they even gained seats in bright blue states, but the issue of immigration has overshadowed the party.

The Republican Governors Association conference being held this year at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club coincides with the news of the president’s intention to announce major executive action on immigration reform and through most of the events that were open to reporters the governors were pressed over and over on the topic. One thing was clear: they are sick of the issue or at least being asked about it.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who just won re-election and is a possible 2016 presidential contender, said today it was the press and the president who were “obsessed” with the issue.

“This didn’t just come about in the last two weeks. All the media acted like this came up since the election,” Walker said, noting he believes no Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidate even dealt with the issue that much on the campaign trail. “I would argue actually, most of the U.S. senators didn’t talk about that and yet you have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done to try and get you to divert your attention away from the real issues in this country.”

Walker stressed he and other governors here got elected because they are “actually talking about issues that people care about in our states.”

“You can keep asking about it, but that doesn’t change the fact… we responded to the issues people care about instead of obsessing over the things you are talking about now that aren’t even in the top 10 list of most Americans,” Walker said at a press conference with several other governors, including two other possible 2016 contenders Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Kasich, who sounded a more moderate tone over immigration at Wednesday’s events, said he hopes the president’s action is a “really small one,” adding he would tell President Obama: “Do what you feel you absolutely have to do, but you can’t go so far.”

These governors know whatever they say about immigration could put them on shaky political ground when it comes to 2016. It’s an issue Mitt Romney had to deal with in 2012 and no Republican candidate wants to have to face in a general election in 2016. GOP candidates routinely make more conservative points during the primaries, especially on the issue of immigration, in order to win the more conservative voting base. Of course, it’s not always easy to moderate in the general election as Romney’s “self-deportation” comments proved.

That’s another reason why changing the topic could be quite helpful.

On Wednesday, many of the country’s most watched governors came together for an event titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead” and the majority of the event focused on immigration and the president’s pending action. After almost half of the event was completely focused on the issue, it was clear the governors were getting antsy.

Jindal even tried himself to move the conversation to another topic saying to moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd: “We’ve now spent 30 minutes talking about the president breaking the law.”

He wasn’t the only governor on the stage tired of the topic. To laughs from the crowd, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Todd: “Here’s what I’m thinking: You will probably not be invited to do a moderation for a presidential debate.”

The governors also met with donors and discussed strategy in private meetings at the pink-colored resort during the gathering. The party heads into January with 31 governorships, the most for either party in 16 years.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to announce a sweeping executive action to “secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” the White House announced in advance of the president’s 8 p.m. address to the nation Thursday night.

“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair,” President Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It fulfills, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” the president will say, according to excerpts. “And 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.”

The announcement is expected to set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It also no doubt will unleash a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are now attending school, have graduated high school or served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal record, provide their biometric information, and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claims it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to announce a sweeping executive action to “secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules,” the White House announced in advance of the president’s 8 p.m. address to the nation Thursday night.

“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair,” President Obama will say, according to excerpts of his remarks prepared for delivery. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability — a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It fulfills, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation’s undocumented immigrants — roughly 5 million people — will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” the president will say, according to excerpts. “And 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.”

The announcement is expected to set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It also no doubt will unleash a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president’s primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

Obama’s order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are now attending school, have graduated high school or served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal record, provide their biometric information, and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president’s executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits.

The application process won’t begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claims it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

“Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Ahead of the president’s address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. “The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama’s unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

“It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.”

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, “I am concerned if the president’s action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should’ve done what he did.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s not every day you spot suits doing backflips in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives. But this week, the rules were different.

The 57 new members of the 114th Congress, gathered in a Capitol committee room to draw numbers for the Congressional Office Lottery, needed all the luck they could get.

“There’s a direct correlation between the number you drew and demonstrations of something that brings luck to you,” House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer told fledgling members.

Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham, D-Fla., wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

She asked her chief-of-staff’s husband, Paul Woodward, to do a lucky backflip in the aisle before she reached her hand into the box to pick a numbered button that would determine the location of her office for the next two years.

Those with the lowest numbers pick their office space first and can choose some envy-creating digs. Those with high numbers choose their office space last when only some pretty cramped rooms with views of ventilation vents are left as options.

THE LUCKY ONES

Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham, Number: 6

Woodward’s stunt apparently worked. Graham drew pick number six.

“It was a last minute decision. We just — the room seemed like a fun room, and Gwen was like, will you do a back flip? I’m like, ‘Sure.’” Woodward told ABC.

“I was worried about his safety,” Graham chimed in. “I can barely do a forward roll.”

She eventually selected Longworth 1213, an ancillary office building located just south of the Capitol.

Rep.-Elect Steve Knight, Number: 1

Despite his refusal to bust a move, Rep.-Elect Steve Knight, R-Calif., drew number one, netting himself a highly-coveted office in the Longworth building.

Rep.-Elect Will Hurd, Number: 18

Former CIA agent Rep.-Elect Will Hurd, R-Texas, snagged a hidden gem: Cannon 317, an office former President John F. Kennedy occupied during his time in the House.

“I think every office in these buildings has a unique history. When you think about some of the legends and characters that have walked these halls, you know, it’s interesting to know our names are going to be added in that footnote,” he said.

But for the Republican congressman, utility was more important than sentimentality.

“I think as long as it has Internet connection and some desks, we’ll be ready,” he said.

But he wasn’t the only one who had his eye on JFK’s office.

THE NOT-SO-LUCKY ONES

Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell, Number: 40

Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who in January will replace her husband, retiring Rep. John Dingell, the U.S. House’s longest serving member, was itching to claim the JFK office.

“I am somebody that believes in rituals and traditions and has some sentimentality,” she told ABC. “But I’ll never get it.”

She was right. Dingell ended up in Cannon 116.

In her new workspace, the Michigan Democrat says, she’ll likely use her husband’s desk. It also belonged to his father, former Rep. John Dingell Sr., a newspaperman who served in the House for 22 years.

“If I could have the desk that the man who authored Social Security and the man who sat in the chair and helped author Medicare and the Civil Rights Act, maybe it’ll inspire and help me to do good things while I’m here,” Dingell said.

Rep.-Elect Rick Allen, Number: 50

Rep.-Elect Richard Allen, R-Ga., the second new lawmaker to choose a button, refused to dance.

He’s probably regretting it right about now.

“Mr. Allen did not dance and he drew number 50 [out of 57]. Just saying,” Weidemeyer quipped, as Allen hung his head.

Rep.-Elect Barbara Comstock, Number: 57

Rep.-Elect Barbara Comstock, R-Va., laughed when she drew pick 57 — dead last.

Some of her colleagues began to groan.

Comstock took it with good grace and soon her colleagues began to applaud.

“As I’ve told folks when I first started working here, I worked in House Annex Two. So any office in the people’s house is a fabulous office to be working in,” Comstock told ABC.

Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford, Number: 11

Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford, D-Neb., drew a fairly good number — 11 — despite being late to the selection and being bumped to be the last person to draw a button.

Ashford reportedly joked that his lateness was “sort of nonpartisan gesture to my new colleagues.”

“In the end, I feel good about it, since it’s fine. It’s so incredibly unimportant to me, so I was glad the others got their picks,” he told The Hill.

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