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Immigration Lawsuit Stirs Up Congressional, Presidential Politics

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith is one of a handful of Republicans criticizing an Obama administration policy to defer enforcement of select immigration violations.

"We must hold those who are breaking the law accountable and allow law enforcement the ability to do their job. Instead, this is a back door path to amnesty. We are a nation of laws but the president is stepping beyond his authority by determining what laws must be enforced," Boozman said. "Americans deserve immigration reform, secure borders and improved workplace verification to hold employers accountable for hiring illegal workers."

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security devised the deferred action policy when it was abundantly clear that Congress would not act on the DREAM Act this year.

That legislation, championed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, provided they attend college or join the military. Durbin first introduced the DREAM Act more than 11 years ago, a point which he highlights during his regular appearances on the Senate floor.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had planned to unveil a Republican alternative version of the DREAM Act, but he said that became unnecessary when the Obama administration took the unilateral action to focus enforcement resources on dangerous immigrants.

The administration plan has the backing of Hispanic groups, which are a key constituency in Obama's re-election bid and Democratic efforts to hold on to control of the Senate.

Democrats highlighted the plan last week when a process began to allow eligible individuals to apply for work permits after paying a $465 fee.

"This is a historic humanitarian moment and I personally salute the president for his leadership. This action will give these young immigrants their chance to come out of the shadows and be part of the only country they've ever called home," Durbin said last week.

Durbin told a group of people applying for the new work permits in Chicago that he expected the Obama administration's move would eventually lead to support for a DREAM Act law.

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