Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he has shelved his own version of the DREAM Act until after the November election after President Obama announced Friday that his administration was enacting policy to stop the deportation of young illegal immigrants. [See what Gov. Haley Barbour Says about Rubio as a Veep Pick.]
Rubio told the Wall Street Journal "people are going to say to me, 'Why are we going to need to do anything on this now? It has been dealt with. We can wait until after the election,'" Rubio said. "And it is going to be hard to argue against that."
Rubio had not yet released his own version of the DREAM Act, but had touted the legislation as a way for young immigrants pursuing military service or higher education to stay in the U.S. without consequence.
Alex Conant, Rubio's spokesman, says Obama's announcement killed any spirit of bipartisanship that Rubio had cultivated over the DREAM legislation. [See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]
"The president's announcement really inflamed the politics on both sides, making it harder for Sen. Rubio to find a consensus," says Conant. "Senator Rubio has been working for months to build a consensus approach to formally solving this issue and was having considerable success behind the scenes. Not a single member of Congress had spoken out against his plan."
The president's announcement Friday spurred a slew of reactions on Capitol Hill. At one end of the spectrum, members of Congress questioned the legality of the president's decision. Shortly after the president's remarks, Iowa Rep. Steve King announced he would pursue a lawsuit against the president. [Marco Rubio All the Buzz Online.]
"Americans should be outraged that President Obama is planning to usurp the Constitutional authority of the United States Congress and grant amnesty by edict to 1 million illegal aliens," King said in a statement. "There is no ambiguity in Congress about whether the DREAM Act's amnesty program should be the law of the land. It has been rejected by Congress, and yet President Obama has decided that he will move forward with it anyway. President Obama, an ex-constitutional law professor, whose favorite word is audacity, is prepared to violate the principles of Constitutional Law that he taught."
Others, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, praised the president for taking action on an issue Congress had failed on in the past. A Democratic version of the DREAM Act failed to make it out of the Senate in 2010. [Should Mitt Romney Adopt Marco Rubio's Immigration Policy?]
"President Obama's courageous decision removes the specter of deportation that hovered over these deserving individuals and frees up law enforcement resources to focus on people who are a threat to our public safety and national security," Reid said. "I hope Republicans, especially those who have voiced a willingness to help these young people, will support the Administration's directive."
However, Rubio told the Wall Street Journal that by making the decision without consulting Congress, the president "sets back our efforts to arrive at a balanced and responsible approach to this issue. It poisons the well. It leads to mistrust. It makes it harder to come up with a long-term solution."
Lauren Fox is a political reporter at U.S. News and World Report. Follow her on twitter @foxreports or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.