President Obama signed two executive actions on Friday that would delay deportation for millions of illegal immigrants. The president, who signed the controversial policies aboard Air Force One, then spoke about his action at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
Del Sol is the same school where he laid out his blueprint for immigration overhaul nearly two years ago.
Several hundred protestors lined the streets holding “No Amnesty” and “Impeach Obama” signs.
Others chanted “worst president ever,” as he drove by.
"Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time and everybody knows it," he said in his remarks. "We can't afford it anymore."
But he cautioned that his actions are limited and that only broader legislation would permanently change immigration laws and help the more than 11 million immigrants illegally in the United States.
"The actions I've taken are only a temporary first step," he said.
As if to underscore that point, a heckler interrupted Obama, chiding him for not doing enough with his executive actions to help more immigrants in the country.
"Not everyone will qualify," Obama conceded. "That's the truth. Listen, I heard you and what I'm saying is we're still going to have to pass a bill."
His action will grant “deferred action” to two illegal immigrant groups- parents of United States citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for five years, and young people who who were brought into the country illegally as of 2010.
Hispanics are a growing and powerful constituency in Nevada and the state serves as fertile ground for the president to rally public support.
During a 15-minute primetime speech Thursday, Obama said his administration will start accepting applications from illegal immigrants who seek the deferred actions.
Those who qualify will be granted protections for three years, Obama said, as he laid out his sweeping plan to the public Thursday night from the East Room of the White House.
“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” Obama said during the primetime address. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”
Obama, who pitched his plan as a “commonsense, middle ground approach,” said “if you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law” but warned “if you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.”
The president did not specify how many in each "deferred action" group would be granted the new status. According to recent reports, the parental group could involve upwards of 4.5 million immigrants, with those brought into the country illegally making up close to 300,000 new applications.
But Republicans have been quick to criticize and say the executive action is an example of Obama stretching his powers as president.
Even before the speech, conservatives said they were willing to do whatever was necessary to stop Obama’s plan.
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the majority leader in January when the new congressional class is sworn-in, said Obama would regret choosing to ignore the will of the American people.
McConnell, who made his statements from the Senate floor Thursday morning, has led the charge against the president and has promised a legislative fight when Republicans take full control of Congress in 2015.
“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act,” McConnell said.
Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz, who will replace Rep. Darrell Issa as chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News that the president’s timing on announcing the plan was “crystal clear.”
“It’s all about politics,” Chaffetz said. “He just got slaughtered in an election.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in an op-ed in Politico Wednesday that if Obama acts, the new GOP majority in the Senate should retaliate by not acting on a single one of his nominees – executive or judicial – “so long as the illegal amnesty persists.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report