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Why Students Are Tweeting Pics of School Lunches With #ThanksMichelleObama

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Students across the country are tweeting photos of their school lunches and using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

The first lady has been active in pushing for reform in school cafeterias and encouraging healthier eating overall. The White House passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, championed by Michelle Obama in 2010, intended to improve the nutritional value of school lunches.

Some kids still don't seem too pleased by what their schools are dishing out, and the hashtag, which has been in use since August, went viral again on Friday.

While some students used the hashtag sarcastically, some used it to show support for Obama, thanking her for her efforts to get kids eating healthy.

Check out some of the tweets below:


this Looks like chicken and tastes like sausage im so confused #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/3y150oGZpl

— hard pa$$ (@idkaysia) November 21, 2014



Whole wheat buns #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/1nG6lr9hWW

— Lucas mcgeachy (@mcgluc18) November 21, 2014



This is considered a "meal" #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/k3WOVbJpxv

— Jordan Fite (@jordan_fite37) November 21, 2014



Grilled cheese and plastic for lunch..yummy ???????????? #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/YQ9N7XpLeB

— Kendrick (@KendraPohlman) November 21, 2014



Yum school lunch part 2 #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/y8qY680qwR

— Jess Sency (@Jess_Sency) November 21, 2014



Good lunch at school #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/xtCPI3M8tt

— Chase (@Chase_McMorrow) November 21, 2014



Many students love the new lunches. #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/NnbpHJzEPN

— CSPI (@CSPI) November 21, 2014


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Obama Raises Stakes on Immigration in Vegas Rally

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Pitching his immigration plan directly to the American people, President Obama told a rowdy crowd on Friday that what he’s offering is a “common sense” first step to fixing a “broken system.”

“Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time, and everybody knows it,” Obama said.

"It’s not amnesty,” Obama said of his plan to shield up to 5 million people from deportation. “Amnesty really is the system we’ve got today… What we are offering is accountability. It is accountability. It’s a common sense middle-ground approach.”

Taking an exasperated tone, the president claimed he tried everything to work with Congress and chastised Republicans in the House for refusing to vote on the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate.

“I cajoled and I called and I met. I told [House Speaker] John Boehner, ‘I’ll wash your car. I’ll walk your dog. Whatever you need me to do, just call the bill.’ That’s how democracy is supposed to work,” he said.

“This debate deserves more than politics,” he said. “This is about who we are. Who do we want to be?”

Obama also pushed back against critics who claim his executive actions poison the well for future compromise.

“Why? I didn’t dissolve parliament,” he joked. “That’s not how our system works. I didn’t, you know, steal away the various clerks in the Senate and the House who manage bills. They can still pass a bill. I don’t have a vote in Congress. Pass a bill.”

The president chose to return to a familiar site to kick off his campaign to sell his unilateral plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and shield up to 5 million people from deportation.

“Tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people is not realistic," he said.

Nearly two years ago, in this same gym at Del Sol High School, the president outlined his post-election promise to finally reform immigration in his second term.

On Friday, the same chants of “si se puede” (yes we can) rang out as Obama touted his move to bypass Congress and act on his own.

“I come back to Del Sol to tell you I’m not giving up. I will never give up,” he said to raucous applause.

Hispanics are a powerful voting bloc in this swing state, where undocumented immigrants make up a larger portion of the population than in any other state, according to the Pew Research Center.

While the mood inside the event was largely positive, outside protesters chanted “worst president ever” and held signs reading “Deport Obama” and “No Amnesty.”

When the president's remarks were briefly interrupted by a protester objecting that not enough undocumented immigrants are covered by his executive actions, Obama agreed that more needs to be done.

“Not everyone will qualify… This is the first step, not the only step,” he said. “That’s why we need Congress to pass a bill.”

The visit to Las Vegas also gives the president a chance to boost Democratic Leader Harry Reid in his home state in the wake of the bruising midterm loss for Democrats. Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and several other lawmakers hitched a ride to Nevada aboard Air Force One.

Shortly after landing the president signed aboard Air Force One the presidential memorandum to formally give guidance to federal agencies.

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Boehner: Obama 'Damaging Presidency' with Unilateral Immigration Action

Heather Reed / Office of the Speaker(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner said that President Obama is damaging the institution of the presidency by taking unilateral action to reform the country's immigration laws, setting up another political showdown on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as Republicans work on a strategy on how best to react to Thursday's announcement.

"All year long I've warned the president that by taking unilateral action on matters such as his health care law, or by threatening action repeatedly on immigration, he was making it impossible to build the trust necessary to work together," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "As I warned the president, you can't ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you're constantly demonstrating that you can't be trusted to enforce the law."

"The president repeatedly suggested that he was going to unilaterally change immigration law and he created an environment where the Members would not trust him," Boehner added. "Trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible and I warned the president over and over that his actions were making it impossible for me to do what he wanted me to do."

The House speaker predicted that Obama's actions "will only encourage more people to come here illegally" and "punishes those who have obeyed the law and have waited their turn."

"We saw the humanitarian crisis on our border last summer, how horrific it was. Well next summer it could be worse," Boehner warned. "With this action the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek."

Boehner said he warned the president that his actions could harm the institution of the presidency when the two spoke on Thursday afternoon before the president's address.

"As I told the president yesterday, he's damaging the presidency itself," he said. "President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected and we were elected to serve."

While Boehner refused to enumerate how the House might react to the president's actions, he stressed that "the House will in fact act."

"The people's House will rise to this challenge. We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk," Boehner pledged. "We'll listen to the American people, we'll work with our members, and we'll work to protect the constitution of the United States."

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Eric Holder Appeals for Peace Ahead of Ferguson Decision

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While a Missouri grand jury secretly decides whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, the nation’s top law enforcement official on Friday called on concerned Americans to appreciate “the gravity” of the matter and express themselves peacefully.

"History has...shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department.

The message comes just days after the FBI -- an agency overseen by Holder -- warned law enforcement agencies across the country that extremist, violent protesters could hijack otherwise peaceful demonstrations nationwide. And it comes one day after Brown’s own father issued his own call for calm.

“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” Michael Brown Sr. said in a public service announcement. “No matter what the grand jury decides, I don’t want my son’s death to be in vain.”

Holder echoed that sentiment in his message Friday, saying recent protests have highlighted “real and significant underlying issues involving police practices, implicit bias, and pervasive community distrust.”

Brown Sr. said he hopes the recent controversy will spark “incredible” and “positive change,” particularly over how police forces interact with the citizens they vow to protect.

In fact, the Justice Department is not only weighing whether to file federal criminal charges against Wilson himself, but it is also conducting a separate civil probe into the entire Ferguson police department, trying to determine whether officers routinely engage in a "pattern or practice" of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

In August, when pressed by ABC News, Holder seemed to acknowledge federal charges against Wilson are hardly guaranteed. And current and former officials have outlined several challenges associated with building such a case.

Nevertheless, Holder on Friday noted that "long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight,” and he touted the “importance” of police forces engaging with communities long before times of crisis.

Holder suggested police officials discuss with citizens even seemingly minor issues such as what uniforms officers should wear.

“[This] hard work…is necessary to preserve the peace and maintain the public trust at all times -- particularly in moments of heightened community tension," he said.

Law enforcement officials contacted over recent days by ABC News -- stretching from Los Angeles to the Atlanta area -- remained confident that such work would help maintain peaceful protests in their cities after the Ferguson decision is announced.

In Indianapolis, for example, police have held two town-hall meetings in the past two months to discuss the Ferguson issue with concerned residents and build a “bank of trust,” Rick Hite, the chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan police department, told ABC News.

Still, federal authorities are urging vigilance.

"The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI said last week in its intelligence bulletin, first obtained and reported by ABC News.

In his video message, Holder commended law enforcement for its response so far to Ferguson-related demonstrations across the country, saying “the vast majority of law enforcement officers have honorably defended their fellow citizens engaged in these peaceful protests.”

Holder also announced that the Justice Department was issuing new guidance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies “about how to approach maintaining order during First Amendment-protected events.”

The guidance includes information and “best practices” that “will help law enforcement officers maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights,” Holder said.

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Here's What Obama Almost Forgot to Bring to Las Vegas

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama walked out of the Oval Office with a spring in his step Friday morning, bounding toward the Marine One helicopter for an immigration campaign swing to Las Vegas, Nevada.

But then -- to the shock of a shivering press corps -- after Obama boarded the bird, he quickly dashed out the rear door, making a bee-line for the White House, telling reporters, “I forgot something.”

Three minutes later, he emerged from the White House with a grin, saying "Do you guys ever forget something?"

"What'd you forget?" ABC News asked the president.

"My Blackberry!" Obama said with a smile, grabbing the black device off his left hip and showing it to the cameras.

With his electronic line to the world, Obama's chopper quickly lifted off for Air Force One. He was joined by speechwriter Cody Keenan, senior adviser Jen Palmieri, aide Marvin Nicholson, domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz, and deputy chief of staff Anita Decker-Breckinridge.

Obama will rally with Democratic supporters at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas Friday afternoon, one day after unveiling sweeping executive action on immigration.

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President Obama Offers Legal Status to Millions of Undocumented Immigrants

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Thursday night, President Obama announced a sweeping executive action intended to secure the border while providing relief for an estimated 4.1 million undocumented family members of U.S. citizens and about 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

"Today, our immigration system is broken and everybody knows it," the president said from the East Room of the White House. "Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility and give their kids a better future?

"There are actions I have the legal authority to take as president -- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me," Obama boldly claimed, "that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just."

The action will be finalized Friday with the signing of a presidential memorandum at a rally in Las Vegas. It will fulfill, at least in part, the promise Obama first made in 2008 as a candidate to lift the threat of deportation from millions of people living in the U.S. illegally.

The move means nearly half the nation's undocumented immigrants -- roughly 5 million people -- will be eligible for temporary legal status and work permits.

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The announcement set off celebrations on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and at watch parties organized by immigrant advocacy groups all around the country. It was also unleashed a flurry of protests from critics who have asserted Obama is exceeding his constitutional authority and setting a dangerous new precedent.

The White House said the president's primary focus, in light of limitations on his executive power, is on keeping families united. The biggest group that will benefit is an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least five years and who have children that were born here as American citizens.

"Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable," Obama said. But, "let’s be honest -- tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn't realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn't being straight with you.

"That’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mother who's working hard to provide for her kids. We'll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day," he said. "After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours."

Obama's order will also extend legal status to a larger universe of so-called Dreamers, who first came to the U.S. illegally as children and either are attending school, have graduated high school or have served in the military. As many as 270,000 more undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for legal status under the program, which Obama first unveiled in 2012, administration officials said.

All immigrant applicants must have clean criminal records, provide their biometric information and pay a fee of around $500, officials said. The legal status will only last three years but can be renewed. The president's executive action does not create a pathway to citizenship or allow access to federal health care benefits, he is claiming.

The application process won't begin until the spring of 2015, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to deportation relief, Obama has also directed that immigration enforcement agencies focus on those who have committed felonies and those who have crossed the border within the last year. By forgoing crackdowns on those without criminal records and who have been here longer, the White House claimed it will be able to devote more resources to border enforcement and cracking down on those who pose a threat.

"Today is an important step toward rational and humane enforcement of immigration law," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton sent a tweet after Obama's announcement, thanking him for taking action. She also released a statement in support of the president's remarks, saying, "I support the President’s decision to begin fixing our broken immigration system and focus finite resources on deporting felons rather than families. I was hopeful that the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in 2013 would spur the House of Representatives to act, but they refused even to advance an alternative. Their abdication of responsibility paved the way for this executive action, which follows established precedent from Presidents of both parties going back many decades. But, only Congress can finish the job by passing permanent bipartisan reform that keeps families together, treats everyone with dignity and compassion, upholds the rule of law, protects our borders and national security, and brings millions of hard-working people out of the shadows and into the formal economy so they can pay taxes and contribute to our nation’s prosperity."

Clinton's statement continued, "Our disagreements on this important issue may grow heated at times, but I am confident that people of good will and good faith can yet find common ground. We should never forget that we’re not discussing abstract statistics – we’re talking about real families with real experiences.  We’re talking about parents lying awake at night afraid of a knock on the door that could tear their families apart, people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to contribute to the community and build better lives for themselves and their children."

Ahead of the president's address, Republicans were sharply critical of Obama's move to circumvent Congress, some vowing to sue the administration and others warning it would spoil any attempt at bipartisan compromise over the next two years.

"Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just not how our democracy works," House Speaker John Boehner said in a short video statement posted on YouTube. "The president has said before that 'he’s not king' and he's 'not an emperor,' but he sure is acting like one. And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

Boehner's comments referred to President Obama's previous comments that he didn't have the authority to make the moves he announced Thursday evening.

"I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not," Obama said tonight. "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." 

But even some congressional Democrats questioned Obama's unilateral action, expressing preference for a more permanent solution through legislation.

"It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it," said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. "I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the President shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own."

Said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, "I am concerned if the president's action goes too far, that number one it will set the cause back, that it will inflame our politics, get us into a kind of retribution situation with the opponents of immigration reform, and really change the subject from immigration to the president and whether he should've done what he did."

"I know the politics of this issue are tough," Obama said during his address. "But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs, without taking a dime from the government, and at risk at any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids."

"I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers," the president continued. "I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love. These people -- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends -- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success."

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The Immediate (and Not So Immediate) Impacts of Obama's Immigration Announcement

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has announced Executive Action on immigration reform. Now what?

Some of the measures take effect immediately, while other reforms will take longer. Those reforms to deferred action won’t be fully implemented for six months, after applications can be accepted.

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While Obama waits and hopes, Congress will take some action that will be more comprehensive and lasting.

So when will we see what?

1. Relief For 4 Million From Fear of Deportation – Immediately.

While they can’t file their application for 6 months, those who qualify for deferred action through a son or daughter that is a U.S. citizen will feel immediate relief.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are instructed to “immediately begin identifying persons in their custody” who meet the criteria; as well as consider the new criteria for “all individuals encountered.”

So that means parents of U.S. citizen can now go about their lives free from constant fear of deportation.

For those who qualify for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Dreamer status, those applications can be filed in 90-days.

2. President Selling His plan – Immediately.

Starting Friday, president Obama hits the road to sell his plan to the American public and put pressure on the GOP to get something passed in Congress.

He speaks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas -- the same place he visited nearly two years ago to lay out his principles for reform. But it’s not just the everyday Americans he is trying to get on board.

“I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution,” he said in his speech. “And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.”

So expect him to continue putting pressure on the GOP to get something done.

3. Advocate Groups Will Organize Sign-Ups and Seminars – This Weekend.

Almost immediately, immigration groups will begin holding information sessions to help those impacted understand what they need to do to gain deferred action, as well as who exactly will qualify.

Also, don’t expect them to slow down their efforts. While claiming success for President Obama finally acting, most groups are continuing to push for more action to include those left out and get congress to move forward.

4. New Staffing and Resources at Border – Coming Weeks.

In the coming days we should get a better picture of the new staffing and resources for the border and when exactly they go into effect.

We do know there will be a new task force formed with made up of the coast guard, customs and border protection, immigration and customs enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and immigration services.

According to a Department of Homeland Security memo, within 90 days there should be a realigning of personnel to accomplish these task forces, all while maintaining the “the surge of resources” sent to the U.S.-Mexico border during the unaccompanied minors crisis over the summer.

We can also expect to see an overall change in the priorities, as outlined by the President, for CBP and ICE.

Their first priority for deportation: those that are threats to national security, followed by those with three or more misdemeanors, and lastly those “who have been issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.”

5. Credit Card Payments for Naturalization Fee — End of 2015.

It’s not cheap to become a citizen! The cost of naturalization is about $680, but you can’t currently pay for it with a credit card, which may be why so many permanent residents never take the next step to become citizens

Come the end of 2015, you can use your credit card.

6. Adjustments to High Tech Worker Visas – It’s Not Clear.

In a memo to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlined steps to improve the backlog for green cards and visas for high skilled workers, but no timetable is given.

What we will see, however, is a modernization to the process. That means the Department of State and USCIS will work together more closely so temporary status doesn’t expire as quickly.

Additionally, the 2007 expansion that allows students in STEM to stay an additional 17-months, for a total of 29-months on their “optional practical training” visa could also be increased.

“I direct that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USCIS develop regulations for notice and comment to expand the degree programs eligible for OPT and extend the time period and use of OPT for foreign STEM students and graduates, consistent with law,” the memo outlines.

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Nominee for Counterterrorism Directorship Warns of Latest Threats

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Nicholas Rasmussen, the acting director at the National Counterterrorism Center, painted a stark picture of what may lie ahead for U.S. efforts to protect the homeland from terrorists while testifying Thursday before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

In line to become the next full-time director of the counterterrorism agency, Rasmussen told lawmakers that the nation faces "broader array of threats from a greater variety of terrorist groups and individual actors than at any point since 9/11."

Thirteen years ago, al Qaeda was regarded as the top threat to launch more attacks inside the U.S. However, Rasmussen said the danger to U.S. interests at home and abroad has been expanded to include so-called "lone wolves," the Islamic State and Iran-sponsored terrorists.

In fact, he went as far as to say, "We're far more at risk, presently, of attack from an individual homegrown violent extremist who may be inspired by, but not necessarily directed by," the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen suggested that the renewal of sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Syria is being exploited by Iran in its backing of Shiite extremist groups, which are also considered a threat against the U.S.

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Administration Lowers Number of Affordable Care Act Enrollees

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Health and Human Services admitted Thursday that the actual number of people who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 30, 2014 was under the 7.3 million that the Obama administration reported.

The discrepancy was first pointed out by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee.

HHS spokesman Ben Wakana wrote in a statement Thursday that the corrected number of enrollees is 6.7 million.

Apparently, the administration mistakenly counted dental-only plans as well that numbered about 400,000. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the error was inadvertent and that an internal investigation is under way to discover what happened.

After the enrollment period earlier this year, the administration actually reported eight million enrollees in the Affordable Care Act, but revised the figure downwards when 700,000 people did not pay for their plans.

Republicans have renewed their battle to take apart the program they call "Obamacare," particularly after one of its architects, Jonathan Gruber, said one of the reasons the law passed was due to the "stupidity" of U.S. voters.

The White House has disavowed Gruber's remarks, saying it does not reflect the president's opinion of Americans.

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GOP Governors: Enough About Immigration Already

ABC News(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Republican governors huddled in Florida for their annual conference and a victory celebration to note their huge wins earlier this month during the midterm elections where they even gained seats in bright blue states, but the issue of immigration has overshadowed the party.

The Republican Governors Association conference being held this year at the posh Boca Raton Resort and Club coincides with the news of the president’s intention to announce major executive action on immigration reform and through most of the events that were open to reporters the governors were pressed over and over on the topic. One thing was clear: they are sick of the issue or at least being asked about it.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who just won re-election and is a possible 2016 presidential contender, said today it was the press and the president who were “obsessed” with the issue.

“This didn’t just come about in the last two weeks. All the media acted like this came up since the election,” Walker said, noting he believes no Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidate even dealt with the issue that much on the campaign trail. “I would argue actually, most of the U.S. senators didn’t talk about that and yet you have fallen into the trap that the president of the United States has done to try and get you to divert your attention away from the real issues in this country.”

Walker stressed he and other governors here got elected because they are “actually talking about issues that people care about in our states.”

“You can keep asking about it, but that doesn’t change the fact... we responded to the issues people care about instead of obsessing over the things you are talking about now that aren’t even in the top 10 list of most Americans,” Walker said at a press conference with several other governors, including two other possible 2016 contenders Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Kasich, who sounded a more moderate tone over immigration at Wednesday’s events, said he hopes the president’s action is a “really small one,” adding he would tell President Obama: “Do what you feel you absolutely have to do, but you can’t go so far.”

These governors know whatever they say about immigration could put them on shaky political ground when it comes to 2016. It’s an issue Mitt Romney had to deal with in 2012 and no Republican candidate wants to have to face in a general election in 2016. GOP candidates routinely make more conservative points during the primaries, especially on the issue of immigration, in order to win the more conservative voting base. Of course, it’s not always easy to moderate in the general election as Romney’s “self-deportation” comments proved.

That’s another reason why changing the topic could be quite helpful.

On Wednesday, many of the country’s most watched governors came together for an event titled “Republican Governors: The Road Ahead” and the majority of the event focused on immigration and the president’s pending action. After almost half of the event was completely focused on the issue, it was clear the governors were getting antsy.

Jindal even tried himself to move the conversation to another topic saying to moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd: “We’ve now spent 30 minutes talking about the president breaking the law.”

He wasn't the only governor on the stage tired of the topic. To laughs from the crowd, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Todd: “Here’s what I’m thinking: You will probably not be invited to do a moderation for a presidential debate.”

The governors also met with donors and discussed strategy in private meetings at the pink-colored resort during the gathering. The party heads into January with 31 governorships, the most for either party in 16 years.

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Everything You Need to Know About Obama's Immigration Announcement

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In a rare primetime nationally televised address, President Obama Thursday night will unveil the most sweeping executive action on immigration in decades. He plans to circumvent Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, boost visas for valuable high-skilled workers, and strengthen security along the Southwest border.

"Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken, unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long," Obama said in a video message posted to Facebook.

Who gets relief, and who doesn’t, under Obama's plan? How will immigration enforcement change inside the country and along the border? And what will the immediate impact be on families, businesses and communities? Here's everything you need to know:

The Announcement

The president will speak live at 8 p.m. ET from the East Room of the White House. On Friday, he will travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to further detail his plans and rally supporters. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will also attend, officials said. The school is the same place where Obama announced a second-term push for immigration reform in Jan. 2013.

The Action

The White House says Obama will “maximize the use of his authority" to extend temporary legal status to more than five million undocumented immigrants.

Who Gets Relief?

  • 4.1 million undocumented parents and families of U.S. citizens who have been in country more than five years with no criminal record.
  • 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, so-called Dreamers, will be newly eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Current age limits for the program will be dropped, sources say.
  • 400,000 highly-skilled workers will be eligible for visas.
  • Some other smaller categories for relief will bring the number affected above five million.

Who Gets Left Out?

  • Undocumented parents of DACA recipients will not be eligible for legal status.
  • Undocumented agricultural workers will not be addressed.

Border Security

Obama will direct more resources on border security with an emphasis on deporting new arrivals. Guidance to law enforcement will be to focus on criminal aliens rather than those living quietly in the shadows with no arrest record.

The Legal Argument

The White House believes Obama's acts are effectively bullet-proof in court, backed up by the precedent of more than a dozen presidents who have used discretion in enforcement of immigration law and granted temporary legal status to thousands of immigrants on their watch. Advocates have been told the dreamer families were left out because White House believes inclusion of non-citizen families would jeopardize the legal underpinning of the plan.

The Caveats

Obama will sign his executive order Friday at the event in Las Vegas, but it will take several weeks for many of the new initiatives to roll out, people familiar with the plan say. Terms of the action will take effect in six months, giving time for congressional action to replace the order with legislation and allow advocacy groups to organize people to apply for relief.

Nothing in Obama's plan will create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and any legal status received would be temporary. Officials have said the eligible immigrants -- as under DACA -- would not be entitled to federal benefits such as Medicaid, health care subsidies, etc.

While up to as many as five million undocumented immigrants would be eligible to apply for relief under Obama’s new order, it is expected that fewer will actually apply and be approved. So bottom line: five million is the high end, but a rough estimate.

The Public View

A majority -- 52 percent -- of Americans said they would like to see Obama act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of congressional action, with 44 percent opposed, in an early September ABC News/Washington Post survey. But when asked about plans to extend legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants now living and working in the U.S., a majority were opposed -- 50 percent saying they do not back the idea, up four percentage points from the year before.

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Ted Cruz Graduates from Dr. Seuss to Cicero on Senate Floor

US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- It seems Sen. Ted Cruz has graduated from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to the towering words of Cicero.

The Texas Republican took to the Senate floor Thursday to criticize President Obama’s expected executive action on immigration, set to be announced at 8 p.m. Thursday. But instead of using his own words, he adapted Cicero’s speech against Catiline to make his point.

“The words of Cicero, powerfully relevant 2,077 years later," Cruz said.

"When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience?" he said, substituting "President Obama" for "O Catiline" in the speech's opening. "How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours swaggering about as it does now?”

Cruz continued, appropriating features of Cicero's address to fit the specifics of the immigration debate.

"Do not the nightly guards placed on the border, do not the watches posted throughout the city, does not the alarm of the people and the union of all good men and women, does not the precaution taken of assembling the Senate in this most defensible place, do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present have any effect upon you?" he asked. "Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge that everyone here possesses of it?"

Cruz regularly referred to notes while reading, though Cicero was said to have had the capacity to memorize his speeches.

The speech by Cicero, delivered in 63 B.C., was meant to further humiliate Catiline, apparently attempting to seize and overthrow the Roman Republic while Cicero was a consul.

Cruz's Cicero references were a giant leap from when he read Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham during a marathon filibuster in 2013. The reading was supposedly intended to entertain his kids, who were at home watching Cruz on the Senate floor.

The late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., was also known to use Cicero quotations to enhance his arguments on the Senate floor.

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The Seven Luckiest and Unluckiest Freshman Members of Congress

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It’s not every day you spot suits doing backflips in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives. But this week, the rules were different.

The 57 new members of the 114th Congress, gathered in a Capitol committee room to draw numbers for the Congressional Office Lottery, needed all the luck they could get.

“There’s a direct correlation between the number you drew and demonstrations of something that brings luck to you,” House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer told fledgling members.

Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham, D-Fla., wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

She asked her chief-of-staff’s husband, Paul Woodward, to do a lucky backflip in the aisle before she reached her hand into the box to pick a numbered button that would determine the location of her office for the next two years.

Those with the lowest numbers pick their office space first and can choose some envy-creating digs. Those with high numbers choose their office space last when only some pretty cramped rooms with views of ventilation vents are left as options.


Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham, Number: 6

Woodward’s stunt apparently worked. Graham drew pick number six.

“It was a last minute decision. We just -- the room seemed like a fun room, and Gwen was like, will you do a back flip? I’m like, ‘Sure.’” Woodward told ABC.

“I was worried about his safety,” Graham chimed in. “I can barely do a forward roll.”

She eventually selected Longworth 1213, an ancillary office building located just south of the Capitol.

Rep.-Elect Steve Knight, Number: 1

Despite his refusal to bust a move, Rep.-Elect Steve Knight, R-Calif., drew number one, netting himself a highly-coveted office in the Longworth building.

Rep.-Elect Will Hurd, Number: 18

Former CIA agent Rep.-Elect Will Hurd, R-Texas, snagged a hidden gem: Cannon 317, an office former President John F. Kennedy occupied during his time in the House.

“I think every office in these buildings has a unique history. When you think about some of the legends and characters that have walked these halls, you know, it's interesting to know our names are going to be added in that footnote,” he said.

But for the Republican congressman, utility was more important than sentimentality.

“I think as long as it has Internet connection and some desks, we'll be ready,” he said.

But he wasn’t the only one who had his eye on JFK’s office.


Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell, Number: 40

Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who in January will replace her husband, retiring Rep. John Dingell, the U.S. House’s longest serving member, was itching to claim the JFK office.

“I am somebody that believes in rituals and traditions and has some sentimentality,” she told ABC. “But I’ll never get it.”

She was right. Dingell ended up in Cannon 116.

In her new workspace, the Michigan Democrat says, she’ll likely use her husband’s desk. It also belonged to his father, former Rep. John Dingell Sr., a newspaperman who served in the House for 22 years.

“If I could have the desk that the man who authored Social Security and the man who sat in the chair and helped author Medicare and the Civil Rights Act, maybe it’ll inspire and help me to do good things while I’m here," Dingell said.

Rep.-Elect Rick Allen, Number: 50

Rep.-Elect Richard Allen, R-Ga., the second new lawmaker to choose a button, refused to dance.

He’s probably regretting it right about now.

“Mr. Allen did not dance and he drew number 50 [out of 57]. Just saying," Weidemeyer quipped, as Allen hung his head.

Rep.-Elect Barbara Comstock, Number: 57

Rep.-Elect Barbara Comstock, R-Va., laughed when she drew pick 57 -- dead last.

Some of her colleagues began to groan.

Comstock took it with good grace and soon her colleagues began to applaud.

“As I’ve told folks when I first started working here, I worked in House Annex Two. So any office in the people’s house is a fabulous office to be working in,” Comstock told ABC.

Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford, Number: 11

Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford, D-Neb., drew a fairly good number -- 11 -- despite being late to the selection and being bumped to be the last person to draw a button.

Ashford reportedly joked that his lateness was “sort of nonpartisan gesture to my new colleagues.”

“In the end, I feel good about it, since it’s fine. It’s so incredibly unimportant to me, so I was glad the others got their picks,” he told The Hill.

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Meet the Biggest Upset Winner of 2016 Midterm Elections

Hogan For Governor(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- Larry Hogan, the political longshot who is now the governor-elect of Maryland, is being applauded at the Republican Governors Association conference for his shocking upset win in the midterm elections.

Hogan says he won despite being outspent “five to one” and says he’s only the “second governor in nearly 50 years to be elected as a Republican” in the state.

Maryland was one of the rare spots that even got a visit from the president in the days before the election. The race wasn’t on the national radar and he even describes himself as a “no name, regular” guy.

But he’s at this week’s annual Republican Governors Association conference and he’s getting quite the reception. The RGA even decided to go into $1.5 million in debt to play in the state, a successful gamble.

Here’s a condensed Q and A with the man who pulled off the biggest upset of the midterm cycle, including his thoughts on 2016 and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:

ABC: Are you being treated like a rock star here after your big win?

LH: Well I’ve got to tell you nobody really expected us to win Maryland and it does seem like the surprise of the election season, so we are getting people coming up and congratulating us, I’ll tell you that.

ABC: How much has your life changed overnight?

LH: It is a little bit overwhelming quite frankly and it’s a little bit of a whirlwind. I mean immediately on election night state troopers show up in my room and now everybody in the country wants to talk to us and I’m just a no name guy who’s a small businessman whose never held elected office and now we pulled off the biggest upset in the country so it’s changed quite a bit, but I’m going to try and stay grounded. I mean what got me elected was talking to real people and just being a regular guy that was saying the same kind of things average Marylanders were talking about.

ABC: Are you the most in demand governor here?

LH: It seems like. Well, we ran a lot of tough races in Illinois, in Massachusetts, and in Maryland, but a lot of people are pretty excited about our win…I was surprised last night when during the opening dinner [New Jersey] Gov. Christie spent half his speech talking about the win in Maryland. And he came into our state four times and he really pushed the other governors to try and make a decision to come in and help us. And he said a lot of them thought he was completely crazy when he talked about Maryland, but we’re happy to have his support and the RGA helping us at the end of the race.

ABC: How much do you think that Chris Christie himself helped put you over the top?

LH: Well he helped a lot. We ran a great campaign. I worked for three and a half years to try and make this happen and we had a great grassroots effort with 130,000 volunteers involved, half of which were Democrats and Independents. But Chris Christie came at the end when no one believed and that helped convince the media to pay more attention to our race and it helped us raise a little bit more money to get our television ads on at the end.

ABC: How did you pull it off?

LH: We went into non-traditional areas. We did better among women, we did better among Hispanics, Asians, black voters. We did tremendously well, three times better than the last candidate than ran in our state. We won a lot of Jewish voters. We won in places people didn’t expect to win because we went there we talked with people and we talked about things they cared about and we came up with solutions they thought were better for the state.

ABC: When it comes to 2016, do you think it has to be a governor?

LH: I don’t know it has to be a governor, but my opinion is the crop of governors we have here, and I’ve gotten a chance to know some of them and have been following them all for a long time, they actually govern. And being a governor of a state you have to govern, you have to represent everybody, you have to make really tough decisions, you have to actually manage things... It’s a better breeding ground, better training to become president when you are in an executive capacity. Not to say we don’t have any great folks in the Senate or in the House, but legislators dont' have the same experiences as people who are actually governing and running things.

ABC: Is that person here now?

LH: I think there’s a very good likelihood that the next president of the United States could be right here at his conference, yes.

ABC: What about Chris Christie?

LH: I’m a huge Chris Christie fan, have been for a long time since he was first elected in 2009. He won in a blue state, which is what I did, and he was kind of a role model for me because he did it in 2009... Nobody believed he could win, he pulled off an upset, and he’s done a great job as governor and I couldn’t be more grateful to him for his help and his advice and for believing in us and coming in to our state. I think the world of Gov. Christie and I think he would make a great president.

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NSA Worries Hackers May Shut Down American Utilities

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers worries that it is only a matter of time before other countries exploit vulnerabilities in the computer systems that control America’s energy infrastructure to bring them down.

Rogers said that last year the Department of Homeland Security responded to 198 cyber incidents across critical infrastructure sectors, with 40 percent targeting the energy sector.

“The energy sector continues to bear the brunt of our country's cyber-attacks because hackers recognize that the energy sector is our country's Achilles heel” said Rogers.

“I have told my organization is I fully expect that during my time as the commander we are going to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure within the United States because it is under attack by some foreign nation or some individual or group,” Rogers told the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

He said his agency has seen nations, groups and individuals aggressively working towards gaining the capability to selectively shut down parts of the American power grid and other utility sectors.

Rogers described intrusions into those networks as reconnaissance designed “to understand vulnerabilities that could be exploited in the future.”

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds that there are nation states or groups that have the capability to do that,” said Rogers.

He added, “All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of the 'when,' not the 'if' that we are going to see something traumatic.”

Getting access to those systems could mean shutting down selective parts of the American infrastructure.

“If I want to tell it power turbines to go off line and stop generating power, you can do that,” said Rogers. "If I wanted to segment the transmission systems so you couldn’t distribute the power that was coming out of power stations, this would enable you to do that.”

Rogers did not challenge committee Chairman Mike Rogers’ assertion that a report by the private cyber security firm Mandiant blamed Chinese government hackers as having gotten access into some of America’s industrial control systems.

Rogers also worries that nation states will begin using cyber criminals as their surrogates to enter America’s computer networks.

"I’m watching nation states attempt to obscure, if you will, their fingerprints. And one of the ways to do is to use surrogate groups attempt to execute that for you,” said Rogers.

He said recent activity by some cyber criminals targeting major companies to steal credit card information may already show links as they’ve used some tools historically used by nations.

He said that “suggests to us that increasingly in some scenarios we’re going to see more linkages between the nation state and some of these groups that’s a troubling development for us."

Rogers likened that possibility as “cyber hitmen for hire really, to serve nation states.”

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