WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama addressed the nation Thursday night to unveil his new immigration plan.

His immigration accountability executive action will crack down on illegal immigration at the border. It would also mean cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants as well.

Under the President’s plan, as many as 5 million people in the country illegally would be spared from deportation for three years and made eligible for work permits.

Undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and have children who are American citizens will be allowed to stay once they pass a background check.

“You can come out of the shadows and get right to work,” said Obama.

The action would also streamline the deportation of criminals by moving them to the top of the deportation priority list, falling in line with his focus to deport felons and not families. The centerpiece of the president’s action; however, is the process for certain undocumented immigrants to gain temporary protection from being deported.

The plan does not include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or provide access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable—especially those who may be dangerous,” said Obama.

The action would have those that qualify to start paying taxes, and they would be allowed to stay in the country for at least three years without fear of deportation.

The executive actions are sure to spark battle between the White House and GOP lawmakers, who say President Obama is acting beyond his authority. But the president said history is on his side.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every Democratic President for the past half century. And to those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” said Obama.

A bipartisan immigration reform bill did pass the Senate last year, but the Republican-led House never voted on it.

– Geoff Bennett