Tea Party protests over Obama's immigration action fail to gather steam

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Following President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday night laying out his executive action on immigration, sparse protests have sprouted across the country in response to the president’s plan.

From a one-man demonstration freezing South Dakota to a small group in New York City on Thursday night to a planned Tea Party protest to be held outside of the Las Vegas school Obama will visit Friday, opponents of the president’s executive action are gathering – in less than record numbers – to voice their anger with Obama’s decree.

“Our president is advocating breaking the law and giving it away to people from other countries,” Karen Steelmon, the president of the Las Vegas Tea Party told Fox News Latino. Steelmon said more than 700 protesters showed up outside of Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, where Obama is expected to sign the executive actions during a rally.

Tea Party and other groups from places as far as Alabama, Missouri and California are expected to travel to Las Vegas for the protest, including the “Stop The Buses Murrieta" group that gained national attention this summer when the city's mayor and residents blocked buses carrying immigrant children who were going to be processed there.

By about 8:30 in the morning in Las Vegas about 40 people had already gathered in a parking lot across the street from Del Sol High School with people shouting "Secure Our Borders" over megaphones and holding up signs in protest to Obama's executive action. Hundreds more turned up hours later.

"It is outside his powers to do such a thing," Patrice Lynes, an organizer of “Stop The Buses Murrieta" told FNL in a phone call from Las Vegas. "He has violated the Constitution. It's Congress' job to make the laws, not his.”

Retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warned on Thursday that the president’s speech would trigger “violence” and anarchy – even saying it would parallel the protest in Ferguson, Missouri over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man at the hands of police.

But the countrywide protests following Obama’s Thursday night speech have been sporadic and lightly attended. Some have even been drowned out and largely overshadowed by larger pro-immigration rallies across the country supporting Obama's executive order.

In Philadelphia, pro-immigration protesters outnumbered a Tea Party group that opposed executive action.

"We were aware that some of these actions by anti-immigrants were happening," Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, told Philly Now, "and rather than bring hate to a place that’s already filled with hate, we would show them what love is about.”

But protesters were not deterred.

Braving 19 degree temperatures, Darin McDonnel of Sioux Falls, South Dakota took to the streets of his home town Thursday with a sign that read "Obama is mocking our Constitution."

McDonnel told local news media that he was angry that Obama was bypassing Congress with his executive action and that he was "doubling down" after Democrats suffered major losses in the mid-term elections.

"I'm out here because I love this country, and I think our Forefathers were brilliant," he told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "Speed up legal immigration, but I don't think you grant people amnesty. You don't know who is here."

Obama will sign the executive action at 3:55 ET on Friday and is expected to be joined on his trip to Nevada by home state senator and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Immigration advocacy groups scheduled news conferences Friday in multiple states to promote Obama's plans.

The executive actions, which Obama laid out in a prime-time television address Thursday, are designed to make nearly 5 million immigrants illegally in the United States eligible for protection from deportation and for work permits. It would mainly cover parents of U.S. citizens and of legal residents as long as the parents have been in the U.S. for five years or more. But Obama's actions also would change enforcement priorities by emphasizing the deportation of new illegal arrivals and criminals.

"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," Obama said in his national address.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Obama, in sidestepping Congress, had damaged his ability to get things done.

"By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left," Boehner said in a statement following Obama's speech.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.