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WASHINGTON (AP) - The sudden rise in the number of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the U.S. border has dramatically redefined the yearlong debate on immigration.

President Barack Obama had demanded action on a broad change in the law that would have given millions of immigrants illegally in the United States a way to citizenship while spending more on border security. When Republicans balked, he threatened to act on his own. But now the White House says it's focused on addressing the influx of border-crossers and returning as many as quickly as the government can.

Republican lawmakers had decided to scuttle any votes on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws this year. Now, they are urging prompt legislative action, and some even want Obama to take decisive action himself.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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