WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is telling the American people that the time to change the nation's immigration system is now, and he's taking action to make that happen.

In a nationally televised address from the White House, Obama says it doesn't make sense to round up and deport millions of people living in the country illegally. He says his plan will let them come out of the shadows, but it's not anything close to amnesty.

Obama's plan will shield from deportation nearly 5 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally.

Obama says that although there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children coming across the border over the summer, overall the number of people trying to cross the border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.

President Obama says Republican opposition to his executive actions on immigration should not be a "deal breaker" on other issues.

He also says that if Republicans question his right to act on his own, they should act on a comprehensive immigration overhaul. He says he wants to work with both parties to pass a more permanent solution to fixing the immigration system.

He says: "Americans are tired of gridlock."

Obama spoke Thursday night as he unveiled his plans to sidestep Congress and help nearly 5 million immigrants in the United States illegally by making them eligible to avoid deportation and obtain work permits.

Republicans have said Obama's actions would not only hurt chances of passing an immigration overhaul but also damage his relations with the incoming Republican-controlled Congress.