President Obama to announce immigration action in address Thursday

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama will unveil his long-awaited immigration plan Thursday evening, sources tell CNN, changing rules governing deportations that could affect millions of undocumented immigrants and setting off an explosive battle with Republicans.

Obama’s prime-time address will be followed Friday by an event in Las Vegas, sources added. While exact details of his announcement haven’t yet been made public, the basic outline of the plan, as relayed by people familiar with its planning, includes deferring deportation for the parents of U.S. citizens, a move that would affect up to 3.5 million people.

The President declared in June he wouldn’t wait for Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system, initially saying he would announce changes by the end the summer. The decision was delayed until after the midterm elections, when the White House believed it wouldn’t be caught up in campaign politics.

But Republicans have expressed deep anger at the anticipated move, saying unilateral action on immigration would forestall any legislative action.

What’s in the plan

The contours of Obama’s announcement have been the subject of speculation among immigration activists for months, though the White House has yet to officially relay what Obama will announce when he speaks to the American people on Thursday night.

Administration officials say a keystone of the announcement will be allowing the parents of American citizens, who are undocumented immigrants themselves, to remain in the United States without the threat of deportation. That would include the parents of legal residents, but not the parents of children eligible for delayed deportation under a rule Obama enacted in 2012.

Up to 3.6 million people would be affected by that change, according to an estimate from the Migration Policy Institute, though the figures are smaller if Obama’s announcement includes a minimum number of years spent in the country.

Mandating parents live in the U.S. for at least 5 years before becoming eligible would bring the number affected to 3.3 million; a 10-year minimum would bring it down further to an estimated 2.5 million people.

Other potential areas of reform include extending the deportation deferment for immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Altering the age restrictions on that action could allow hundreds of thousands more people to remain in the United States.

Officials also said the plan could include a stronger focus on deporting criminals who are undocumented immigrants and an expansion of worker visas in areas like technology.

Lastly, the plan could include new resources to bolster security on the border.

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