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Obama to Announce Executive Action in Thursday Prime-Time Address

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Obama is looking to frame the closing economic arguments of the midterm campaign. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Barack Obama on Thursday will announce the executive action he's taking on immigration reform.

"Tomorrow night I'm going to be announcing here from the White House some steps that I can take to start fixing our broken immigration system," Obama said in a video posted on Facebook Wednesday.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long. What I'm going to be laying out is the things 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."

Obama is expected to block deportations of parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents and focus deportations on convicted criminals, according reports last week by Fox News and the New York Times. Both the Times and Politico reported he would shield about 5 million people from deportation.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 48 percent of Americans said they disapprove of Obama taking executive action, while 38 percent said they approve. Even among Latinos, just 43 percent approve, while 37 percent oppose.

On Wednesday night, 18 House and Senate Democrats will meet with Obama at the White House to discuss the executive action, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. No Republicans will be at the meeting.

Following Thursday's prime-time announcement, Obama will head to Las Vegas to speak Friday at Del Sol High School about the immigration. He spoke there two years ago about how he wanted Congress to reform the immigration system.

In June, Obama asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for an in-depth review about what executive action he could legally take without Congress on immigration. Some Republicans have argued such unilateral action is unconstitutional.

Obama himself previously cast doubt on what he could do without Congress.

Last November, Obama responded to a heckler in San Francisco who was demanding he take executive action: “If I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws, that’s part of our tradition. And so, the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend that I can do something by violating our laws.”

Two months earlier in an interview with Telemundo, Obama said: “We're not going to have them operate under a cloud, under a shadow. But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that's not an option.”

Asked about that specific comment Tuesday, Josh Earnest noted that the departments of Justice and Homeland Security have since undertaken the review of what the president could do.

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