U.S. President Barack Obama says he is prepared to use his executive powers, allowing him to bypass Congress, to enact sweeping immigration reforms.
Speaking Sunday at the end of the G-20 summit in Australia, Obama said he would not be swayed from achieving new immigration rules by threats from some members of Congress to take actions that could lead to another government shutdown.
The president's new plans to issue executive orders on immigration by the end of the year unless Congress votes on comprehensive reform legislation could shield millions of people living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Saturday at a conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California on the U.S. Pacific Coast that the Obama administration is in the "final stages" of developing the actions. He described the current immigration system as "broken."
Johnson said it was unfortunate that Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives did not act last year on immigration overhaul legislation.
The Homeland security chief said the president's executive actions will be comprehensive and will strengthen border security.
"We're in the final stages of developing some executive actions," Johnson said. "We have a broken immigration system. The more I delve into it, the more problems I see."
Republicans, who will contol the Senate starting in January after winning elections earlier this month, have warned Obama that executive action on immigration would poison hopes for bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
Asked Thursday whether there was a way for Republicans to block Obama on immigration without a government shutdown over funding the government, House Speaker John Boehner said, "We'll find out."
Several House Republicans, including some in leadership, said Friday they were trying to find alternatives that would stop short of directly threatening a government shutdown.
Senator John McCain, one of the Republicans who supports immigration reforms, urged Mr. Obama to "give the new Congress some time" to see if it can move forward. He warned that any executive action could have "real repercussions" for ties between the White House and Congress.
McCain is a senator from the border state of Arizona where many undocumented immigrants cross over from Mexico.
A vocal group of conservatives is pressing to ban funds needed to implement any move that would allow millions of such immigrants to stay and work in the United States.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.