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WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday 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, 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," Obama said, flexing his presidential powers just two weeks after his political standing was challenged in the midterm elections.
As 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."
Despite Obama's challenge to Republicans to pass a broader immigration bill, his actions and the angry GOP response could largely stamp out prospects for Congress passing comprehensive legislation under the current administration, ensuring that the contentious debate will carry on into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans, emboldened by their sweeping victories in the midterms, are weighing responses to the president's actions that include lawsuits, a government shutdown, and in rare instances, even impeachment.
"The president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward," Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is soon to become the Senate majority leader, said before Obama's address.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has refused to have his members vote on broad immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year, said Obama's decision to go it alone "cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left."
While Obama's measures are sweeping in scope, they still leave more than half of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally in limbo. The president announced new deportation priorities that would compel law enforcement to focus its efforts on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border, while specifically placing a low priority on those who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.
He insisted that his actions did not amount to amnesty.
"Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time," he said.
The main beneficiaries of the president's actions are immigrants who have been in the U.S. illegally for more than five years but whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents. After passing background checks and paying fees, those individuals can now be granted relief from deportation for three years and get work permits. The administration expects about 4.1 million people to qualify.
Obama is also broadening his 2012 directive that deferred deportation for some young immigrants who entered the country illegally. Obama will expand eligibility to people who arrived in the U.S. as minors before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and will lift the requirement that applicants be under 31. The expansion is expected to affect about 300,000 people.
Applications for the new deportation deferrals will begin in the spring.
Immigration-rights activists gathered at watch parties around the country to listen to the president announce actions they have sought for years.
"We're going to have plenty of Kleenex around," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
The White House insists Obama has the legal authority to halt deportations for parents and for people who came to the U.S. as children, primarily on humanitarian grounds. Officials also cited precedents set by previous immigration executive actions by Democratic and Republican presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.
The Phoenix International Raceway is teaming up with Phoenix Symphony and Barrett-Jackson Auction Company to celebrate their 50th anniversary through an evening dedicated to music and racing.
If this latest Ebola scandal doesn’t make undecided Arizona voters to chose a Republican slate, nothing will. Where to begin? The “Fast & Furious” gun-selling to Mexican drug cartels from the Democrat Department of Justice. The Democrat-controlled IRS tea party scandal. The Democrat State Department (with Hillary Clinton at the helm), The Benghazi scandal where three security officers and the ambassador to Libya were murdered while our trillion-dollar military sat on their hands. The Democrat-controlled Veterans Affairs hospital scandal. The Democrat-controlled National Security Administration, FBI, and CIA “Spying on every single American” scandal.
Q: Why are you running?
A: Washington doesn’t get it. I’ve been there less than two years and I have watched both parties spend more time fighting each other than working to solve our country’s problems. The layers of bureaucracy are mind-numbing. The unwillingness of leadership to face our real problems and propose realistic solutions that can actually get done is frustrating.
I ran for Congress to change Washington, and I am not giving up. I voted for the No Budget No Pay Act because Congress should not get paid if they don’t do their work. I also voted against my own pay raise. Congress doesn’t need a pay raise, especially when Arizonans are struggling. I am also fighting to reform the VA and ensure that veterans get the health care they have earned and deserve. I voted to protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors and future generations and I support efforts to make sure every woman has access to birth control.
Q: Have the issues at the VA been properly addressed? What else would you like to see done to help veterans in our area?
A: No, when I read the allegations about false record-keeping and fraudulent wait times at the Phoenix VA, I was furious. I demanded answers from the VA and called for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation. We created a Phoenix VA Information Center on our official website to keep constituents updated on our work to hold the VA accountable and get veterans the care they deserve. I co-sponsored the VA reform legislation recently signed into law and am working with the VA to implement these critical reforms. Our office convened a working group to bring the VA and community organizations together to better serve veterans in Arizona. We also hosted a Veterans First resource fair in Phoenix that served over 400 veterans in one day and we are planning another one in the East Valley now. We created a Veterans Resource Guide to help veterans find resources for medical and mental health care and services.
Q: What kind of effect has the Affordable Care Act had on Arizonans?
A: The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect and I am frustrated with how the administration has handled it. Rather than spending time trying to repeal it, members from both sides should come together to improve it, so it works better. The law makes important changes that will help families. Health insurance companies are no longer in charge of people’s health care decisions, and can no longer deny people with pre-existing conditions and drop people when they get sick. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to cover all Americans and hold down costs.
Q: What are your thoughts on the recent ruling and impending hearing about gay marriage in Arizona? And do you support the state’s ban on it?
A: I oppose the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Every committed family should be treated equally under the law and have the same rights and protections.
Q: What can Congress do to spur job growth in our area? What industries would you target?
A: Working with Arizona businesses is one of my top priorities. As a member of the Financial Services Committee, I pushed for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which supports hundreds of jobs across Arizona. I also supported the recent extension of the R&D tax credit to encourage innovation, job growth and research for companies in Arizona. Every month, I meet with businesses and business leaders in our community to hear their concerns and work to support the business community. I am dedicated to making sure business owners — both large and small — have what they need to succeed.
President Obama’s decision to delay his executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections exposes him as a bully and a tyrant. His goal is to take away the ability of the American people to influence their government.
For a half at least, it looked as though Salpointe Catholic might run away with one against Campo Verde, but the Coyotes would not go quietly.
The small fees meant to boost the city’s general fund and make up the budget deficit are taking effect across the city.
Conservative Republicans furious with some members of their own party for supporting Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan are targeting a half-dozen lawmakers in next week's primary in a nasty intra-party battle.
I’ve seen it multiple times, but it never fails to amaze me just how fragile our lives, as well as all the stuff of our lives, really are. One of the summer storms bouncing around the Valley at this time of year brought wind and rain ripping through our church campus. It tore up trees and threw around the roof tiles like a 2 year old in full tantrum mode. The storm was all over and done in the space of about 10 minutes, yet restoring some semblance of order took several days. The emotional impact of the scene of devastation, and the physical work also took its toll, even as we give thanks that no one was injured.
You can almost smell it like a monsoon in the distance. It might not be on the horizon just yet, but there is something in the air that lets us know football season is almost upon us.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Style, punctuation and capitalization reflect the original letter.
Two Republicans hoping to sit on the Arizona Corporation Commission lashed out Wednesday at a decision by the state Department of Revenue to impose property taxes on leased solar panels.
Brick Mansions is an American remake of the French action film, District B13 (2004), that starred the French inventor of the Parkour … uhh … obstacle exercise technique (?), David Belle. I’m not really sure what Parkour is, other than you jump, swing and flip over walls, cars and fences while running from something. Skills that I’m sure come in handy when capture is more dangerous than what you are doing to evade it.
“Sadly, over the past 6 decades, I have watched the U.S.A. fall from being the world’s guarantor of freedom and justice to being the old geezer that stands on his front porch yelling ‘You kids stay the hell off my lawn!’ ”
From what I’ve been hearing, anyone and everyone involved with the upcoming Episode VII is signing just about every NDA and I-will-die-a-death-worthy-of-a-Westerosi-wedding document to keep every shred of information secret. I’m sure J.J. and his army of Disney/Lucasfilm lawyers have thought about all forms and platforms for potential leaks — word-of-mouth, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, carrier pigeon. But here’s one I doubt they kept in mind. Tinder.
Whether you’re an elite cyclist or simply like to tool around the neighborhood on your beach cruiser, CycloMesa is for you.
Campo Verde staved off a furious McClintock rally for a 15-12 road victory Tuesday. Shortstop Paige Hess led Campo Verde with a 4-for-5 day with two doubles and four runs. Riley Herman, Destinee Martinez, Haley Johnston, Tori Sims and Victoria Eccleston each had two hits for Campo Verde. Naomi Martinez came on in the seventh inning to record the save. McClintock, which dug a large hole behind eight errors, got three hits from Andi Blodgett, including an RBI double, and two each from Dian Nordstrom, Audra Emmerson (double and triple), Shealynn Zimnick and Karina Hidalgo.
When Aaron Paul received the script for "Need for Speed," he had very little interest in even reading the story, let alone taking a starring a role in the movie.
It takes a lot for a film based on a video game to impress a crowd these days, given the dazzling advancements in gaming technology. But "Need for Speed," based on the hit EA Entertainment racing game that's sold 150 million units, could now drive some of that success toward the box office.
J'ontar Coleman had one message for the Desert Vista administration when he interviewed for the girls basketball coaching position:
A layoff has done the Hamilton girls basketball team good.
When the night got tough, Hamilton conveniently remembered what's gotten its boys soccer team to this point for five years running.