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DREAM deferred? Will Obama order make immigration reform harder?

President Obama, acting without Congress, took steps to curtail deportations for young illegal immigrants. Republicans say the move could jeopardize prospects for immigration reform.

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No matter the implications in the near future, a key Republican force on immigration reform – Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida – questioned whether the president's action would lead to even more bitterness and gridlock on the long-stalemated issue of comprehensive immigration reform. 

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Senator Rubio said that there is widespread consensus on the need to enact policy that would help "kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own" while not encouraging illegal immigration in the future.

"This is a difficult balance to strike, one that this new policy, imposed by executive order, will make harder to achieve in the long run," Rubio said in a statement. “Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short term answer to a long term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”

Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona sounded a similar note in a statement.

"Today’s announcement by President Obama is a politically motivated power grab that does nothing to further the debate but instead adds additional confusion and uncertainty to our broken immigration system," said Senator McCain, who collaborated with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts in an attempt at immigration reform half a decade ago.

"Rather than unilaterally deciding for the American people what they want and how they believe this problem should be addressed, I encourage the President and his Administration to finally reach out to Congress and propose legislation on this important issue," he added.

Indeed, congressional Republicans burst forth with recriminations over the policy.

"It seems the Con Law Professor President forgot to read Article I. He needs a stark reminder," tweeted Rep. Dennis Ross (R) of Florida. The conservative freshman lawmaker referred to the first article of the US Constitution, which reads in part, "all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States."

The president's allies on Capitol Hill were quick to point out that the president's move was temporary – a future administration could unravel it as instantaneously as Obama instituted it. And they said the move would put pressure on Republicans to come to an accord on long-stalled legislation. 

"The president’s actions were necessary due to the gridlock which has sadly become a normal condition for Congress," said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D) of Texas, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in a statement. "A legislative remedy is still needed. President Obama’s decision should serve as a call to action for the Congress to meet its responsibilities."

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