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Pawlenty slams Obama immigration move as 'political'

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“It’s disappointing that President Obama, even though he had a Democratic congress for the first two years of administration, promised the country and particularly the Hispanic community that he would enact comprehensive immigration reform,” Pawlenty told CNN. “He didn’t do it, and now at the eleventh hour he comes up with this executive order.”

The new policy issued by the Department of Homeland Security will remove the threat of deportation for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, are younger than 30, have lived in the United States for five years, have no criminal history, and have graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the military.

Pawlenty said the issue would be better addressed by allowing Congress to consider the issue.

“It’s an important issue and deserves to be addressed before the Congress, and as Gov. Romney said, on a long-term and permanent basis so these young people don’t have to guess whether or not their status is going to change," Pawlenty said.

On Sunday, Romney repeatedly declined to say whether he would keep Obama's policy in place if he took the White House, saying he would instead work to find a legislative answer.

"Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution," Romney told CBS News.

Republicans had been looking to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to take a leadership role on the immigration issue. The Cuban-American senator had been crafting an alternative version of the DREAM Act, although it's not clear whether he will continue that effort in light of the president's move Friday. 

Pawlenty said Monday that Rubio's plan largely mirrored Romney's preferences on the issue.