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Senate Democrats back Obama on issuing orders for wide protection of undocumented immigrants |

Senate Democrats back Obama on issuing orders for wide protection of undocumented immigrants

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats urged President Obama to issue orders halting deportation of undocumented immigrants that go beyond protecting individuals with family ties in the United States to include vital workers.

In a letter to Obama on Monday, Senate leaders including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the president shouldn’t be cowed by Republican threats to tie up government funding and risk a shutdown if he makes good on his promise to act on immigration.

“Some Republicans are claiming that you do not have the authority to act,” wrote Reid, along with Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York, the second- and third-ranking Senate Democrats. “But we know that you, like previous presidents, have broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws.”

Obama is in the final stages of crafting a plan that would provide relief from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who are parents of citizens, according to people familiar with administration planning. It might include parents of legal residents and immigrants brought to the country as minors.

The prospect of executive action has caused a confrontation with Republican lawmakers, who accuse the president of an unconstitutional power grab that will poison the environment for bipartisan compromise in the new Congress.

A group of Republicans in both chambers is vowing that they will try to block funding to implement Obama’s order. If that holds up a spending bill, the federal government would have to cease many of its operations on Dec. 12.

House Speaker John Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have stressed they don’t want a government shutdown. Even so, support is building within their party to find a way to resist Obama’s orders.

“All options are on the table,” Boehner said recently, while declining to say what Republicans might do. “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail on this if he continues to go down this path.”

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