In it, but not of it. TPM DC

President Barack Obama delivered a message to Republicans who fiercely oppose his long-anticipated executive actions to overhaul immigration enforcement and deportations: pass a bill and I'll undo my changes.

"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," he said during a prime time address on Thursday night announcing his actions. "I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary."

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Updated: 8:30 PM ET

In a far-reaching move that could help shape his legacy, President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions on Thursday evening to shield some five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and let them temporarily work in the country.

He will expand an existing program to avoid targeting certain young people, and create a new program to relieve undocumented parents of Americans of deportation fears, senior administration officials told reporters in the White House ahead of the prime-time announcement.

"That's the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character," Obama said. "What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you'll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up."

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There's no official Sen. Ted Cruz presidential team — yet. But the Texas Republican is already surrounding himself with key strategists and advisers that could make his transparent White House ambitions a reality.

The tea party firebrand relies on a small circle of advisers to inform his views and amplify his ultraconservative message. The inner circle breaks down into two groups: his chief advisers in the Senate office, and the chiefs of his nationally-focused political operation, which he beefed up in the summer of 2014 by hiring a crop of seasoned Republican campaign operatives.

These are the key players that could shape Cruz's presidential ambitions.

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Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said Wednesday that Congress should not risk a government shutdown to stop President Barack Obama's executive actions, and should instead respond by passing immigration reform.

"I hope we respond with legislation," he told a few reporters just off the Senate floor. "I hope we pass legislation."

Immigration reform legislation?

"Yes. That's what we should have done before," said Flake, who co-wrote and voted for the Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2013, which was nixed by House Republicans.

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