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President Obama’s immigration action splits the country

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WASHINGTON — About half of all Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s incoming executive action on immigration despite agreeing with Obama on principle, according to a recent poll.

Nearly six in 10 Americans support creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., but just 38 percent approve of the President’s plans to use his executive power to act on immigration, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday.

Another 14 percent said they were unsure about or had no opinion on Obama’s planned executive action on immigration.

The poll comes as Obama is expected to announce Thursday that he will sign an executive order to shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.

Republicans are up in arms about the President’s plan to use executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system, which they describe as a move to bypass Congress that exceeds his constitutional authority.

Support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants increased to 74 percent when given the details of the bill that passed the Senate last year, but did not get a vote in the House. Those details include ensuring illegal immigrants pay a fine, back taxes and pass a background check before starting the process to become American citizens.

Obama’s plan is also expected to redirect U.S. immigration officials to refocus their deportation efforts on criminals who are undocumented immigrants. And officials have also told CNN that Obama’s plans could also expand worker visas for certain sectors, like technology.

A CNN exit poll on Election Day this month also showed that 57 percent of Americans believe illegal immigrants should get a chance to apply for legal status. About 4 in 10 of those surveyed said they believe illegal immigrants should be deported.