He is about to piss a lot of people off.
President Barack Obama will outline a plan on Thursday to relax U.S. immigration policy for as many as 5 million people, bypassing Congress and angering Republicans.
U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice on fiscal policy and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, called the plan a “partisan bomb” while a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner branded the president “Emperor Obama” for acting unilaterally.
The White House said Obama will deliver a televised speech at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (0100 GMT Friday) laying out the plan followed by a trip to Las Vegas on Friday. Nevada is home to the highest proportion of undocumented immigrants.
Frustrated by years of congressional inaction on what most in Washington agree is a broken immigration system, Obama said he is now prepared to use his executive authority.
Obama’s directives are expected to remove the threat of deportation for as many as 5 million of the estimated 11 million people living illegally in the United States.
The decision will cement his legacy as having aided Hispanics who helped elect him in 2008 and who have become increasingly vocal in their frustration that he has failed to live up to his promise to enact immigration reform.
The unilateral overhaul will likely have a ripple effect on the campaign to find a successor to the president in 2016. While Hispanics will no doubt be pleased, Democrats could face a backlash from voters.
Reaction was swift from Republicans who took control of the Senate in Nov. 4 elections and strengthened their grip on the House of Representatives.
While liberal Democrats were thrilled at Obama’s decision to move ahead, some moderate voices in Obama’s party were uneasy.
“I wish he wouldn’t do it,” said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “I just wish he wouldn’t do it.”
Obama will host 18 congressional Democrats at the White House to consolidate support for his immigration plans among his closest allies on Capitol Hill.