Things to Watch in Obama's Immigration Address
He's likely to point out that predecessors have used executive authority on the issue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 20, 2014 2:42 PM CST
President Obama lays out his plan at 8pm ET.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – The AP offers a guide on what to watch for tonight as President Obama unveils his changes to the nation's immigration system:

  • Winners, losers: Up to 5 million people are expected to be covered by the president's plan, including parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for five years. Obama also is expected to loosen eligibility rules for a 2012 program that already protects some young immigrants from deportation. Among the likely losers: Parents of those participating in the young immigrants' program.

  • Overreach? Republicans are circulating 22 examples of Obama stressing the limits of his authority. Among them, this 2013 quote: "I'm not the emperor of the United States." Now, Obama has to do a rhetorical about-face. Look for him to point to the actions of past presidents: The White House says Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes all used their executive authority on immigration.
  • Fine print: Immigration advocates say their offices already are being flooded with calls from people wondering how they will be affected. Exactly who will get added to the young immigrants' program? Will immigrant spouses of US citizens be covered? What about protection for farm workers? The minutiae of definitions, deadlines, and cut-off dates will be hugely important.
  • GOP reaction: If it's over the top, that could raise questions about Republicans' ability to govern as they are taking control of the Senate. It also could alienate Hispanic voters. Some Republicans have raised the prospect of the immigration dispute resulting in another government shutdown, and there even have been mentions of impeachment, though GOP leaders insist it won't come to that. Others favor legal action.