A fight between US Congress dominated by Republicans and President Barack Obama is imminent.

The president on Thursday announced an offer for some 5 million people living illegally in the country, so they would not be deported. He said he was not proposing amnesty.

“What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach,” he said.

Although the plan will allow millions to work, it won’t offer a path to citizenship or entitle them to the same benefits as Americans, he said.

“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the US illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.”

He pledged to crack down on illegal immigration at the border and require certain undocumented migrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to register to stay temporarily in the US.

Mr Obama said deportations would now focus on “felons not families, criminals not children, gang members, not a mother trying to provide for her kids”.

 

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