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Obama To Announce Plan Impacting Up To 5 Million Undocumented Immigrants

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President Barack Obama. [CBS] President Barack Obama. [CBS]

President Obama will announce an executive order that will defer deportation and provide work permits for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and have no criminal record.

He will also expand his 2012 action to protect the so-called Dreamers (children brought to the country illegally but who are long-time residents) by raising the eligibility age, which is currently limited to those who are no older than 30 years old, according to two sources in the immigration activist community who have been informed of the impending announcement.

Obama administration sources say the number of those affected will be close to five million, after implementation and verification of applicants -- a time-consuming process.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Obama hosted more than a dozen congressional Democrats at the White House to discuss his plans. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, who attended the dinner, said on the Senate floor Thursday that "what President Obama is going to suggest instead of amnesty is accountability. Accountability."

Durbin laid out more of the details of Mr. Obama's plans, noting that after registering with the government, immigrants will have to pay a filing fee, submit themselves to a criminal background check and pay taxes.

"The president says if you will do that under his order, it's my understanding it will say you can legally work in America," he said. "You don't become a citizen. You don't have legal status beyond the work permit, but you don't have to fear deportation."

Durbin continued, "This really says to those who wish to stay, if you will play by these rules, we will give you a chance to stay and work. And what's the reason? We want to deport felons. We don't want to deport families."

The senator lauded the president for acting and called on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to pass the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill this year.

"There is no excuse," Durbin said. "If he's going to criticize the president for using his power to solve a problem, then the speaker should use his power to address that same problem."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, did indeed say on the Senate floor Thursday morning that should Mr. Obama act "in defiance of the people," then "Congress will act."

He did not, however, specify exactly what Congress would do. Meanwhile, he said that Mr. Obama's actions would "impose new unfairness on law-abiding immigrants all without solving the problem."

"In fact," he added, "his action is more likely to make it even worse."

"Just as with Obamacare, the action the president is proposing isn't about solutions," McConnell continued. "It isn't about compassion. It seems to be about what a political party thinks would make for good politics. It seems to be about what a president thinks would be good for his legacy."

Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey, a potential contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, criticized Mr. Obama's"failure to act in the first two years when he had enormous majorities in Congress and in 2008."

In 2008, Christie said to CBS News, Mr. Obama "campaigned to the Hispanic community all across this country that he was going to deal with this issue, and he refused to deal with it and instead he decided he wanted to do Obamacare. He made a judgment and now he wants to blame it on other people. He has nobody to blame but himself."

"He made his choice," Christie continued. "He said that government-run health care was more important than fixing the broken immigration system. I hope the Hispanic community hears that and remembers it."

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, pointed out on Thursday that the Senate last year passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with bipartisan support, but the House has failed to follow suit.

"This is a dereliction of duty, not to address the broken immigration system in our country and what it does to our economy, first and foremost to our families," she said. Some Republicans have said that Mr. Obama would sour relations with Congress by acting unilaterally, but Pelosi said, "That's not a reason not to cooperate, it's an excuse for them not to cooperate."

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