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President's immigration plan draws strong reaction from SC lawmakers

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

South Carolina lawmakers reacted to President Barack Obama's immigration speech Thursday night. The President detailed a plan that would shield five-million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Republican Rep. Mark Sanford says the President is making a mistake by taking executive action, and he says the timing of his decision is suspicious.

“I think there are far reaching consequences because we're talking about a lot of people. We're talking about more than 5 million people. That's more people than live in the entire state of South Carolina with the sweep of an executive stroke."

Sanford says with Republicans taking back the House and Senate just a few weeks ago, he expected Obama to give Republicans some time to come up with a plan. Obama argues Congress has had 18 months to propose an immigration bill. Sanford believes the decision will impact the President's legacy and have consequences at a local level.

"It's not that it's not well meaning. I think everybody feels some level of empathy for people who've been trapped in an immigration system that clearly has deficiencies, but the question is how do you fix that, and the 200-year tradition we have in this country is if something isn't working it works its way through this awful, sausage-making process called the legislative process with all kinds of checks and balances, and, eventually, comes out the other side as law."

Democratic Rep. James Clyburn released the following statement:

“I have been advocating for a long time for the President to use his executive authority to get some things done. He'd be in good company with other Presidents by doing so including Lincoln, Truman, Reagan and Bush. A bipartisan bill passed the U.S. Senate 512 days ago, but the Republican leaders in the House won't bring the bill to the floor for a vote. I commend the President for using his authority to take a very significant step on Immigration Reform.”

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