After the president announced his forthcoming executive actions on immigration to the country on Thursday night, GOP leaders immediately questioned the plan's feasibility, its legality and its potential consequences. Among other reforms, Obama said he would temporarily defer deportation for almost 5 million undocumented workers if they submit to registration and a background check.
"The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don't support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people's elected representatives. That is not how American democracy works," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left."
Boehner's assertion about public opinion aligns with a recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll that found that just 38 percent of Americans support executive action by the president on immigration without Congressional approval.
Although Obama said his moves would bolster border security, some Republicans said that his offer of deferred deportation will actually lead to a spike in undocumented entry into the United States. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a statement that "the right way to do it is to first bring illegal immigration under control by securing the borders and enforcing the laws, then modernizing our legal immigration system."
To be certain, not everyone condemned the plan. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi praised the news. She added that, despite Republican claims to thecontrary, Obama's actions " fall well within the clearconstitutional and legal authority of his office, and thewell-established precedent set by every president sinceEisenhower."
But she was largely outnumbered Thursday night by those skeptical about the plan. industry groups also reacted hesitantly to the president's announcement. National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney said in a post-address statement that the organization is "concerned that the President's executive action on immigration will negatively impact Congress' ability to accomplish real and lasting reform."
Other industries expressed similar misgivings that Congressional compromise may now be even more difficult.
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"We understand the president's frustration with the lack of action. We're frustrated, too," said California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger. "But we're equally frustrated by the failure of the president and congressional leaders to sit down and work something out."
Still, there will be more than just Democratic leaders pleased by the president's forthcoming actions. The biggest impact will be felt by those undocumented immigrants who can now gain a status protecting them from deportation, said John Skrentny, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at University of California, San Diego. "Chances are they would not have been deported anyway, but this assurance would be a major relief in their quality of life and possible options in life in the U.S.," he said in an email to CNBC.
Here's what some of the political response to Obama's address has looked like: