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Rubio to shelve GOP immigration plan

4:52 AM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
Marco Rubio
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(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is standing down for now on proposing his much-anticipated immigration plan, his office confirmed on Monday.

The decision came just days after President Barack Obama announced similar policies to that of Rubio's proposal, which would grant legal status for minors brought here illegally, providing they pursue higher education opportunities or serve in the military.

"We're re-evaluating our plans," said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. "The president's announcement took away our momentum and made the politics a lot tougher."

The Obama administration's directive will specifically allow people younger than 30 who came to the United States before age 16, pose no criminal or security threat and were successful students or served in the military to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation.

The decision, which came through the Department of Homeland Security, attempts to enact provisions from the DREAM Act, Democratic-backed legislation that has failed to garner enough support in Congress, despite several attempts.

Rubio had yet to officially bring his proposal, often described as the Republican version of the DREAM Act, before the Senate, but he has been drumming up support for the measure in recent months at public appearances.

While he had planned to introduce the bill this summer, citing concerns about certain students facing deportation ahead of the new school year, Rubio's office said Monday the president's plan erases that sense of urgency.

Conant said politically different sides had been "working behind scenes for our approach and there was an openness to it and the president has thrown a grenade into discussions."

Rubio feels there is "a hardening of positions" and his staff doubts Congress could reach a consensus on the plan before November. In an interview Monday night, Rubio accused the president of playing pure politics with the timing of his announcement during an election year.

"I don't think there's anyone watching this that doubts that it was for political reasons," Rubio said on Fox News.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose rumored to potentially tap Rubio as his running mate, said on Friday he would support Rubio's plan.

"I would like to seek legislation that deals with this issue and I happen to agree with Marco Rubio as he looked at, considered this issue, he said that this is an important matter that we have to find a long-tem solution," Romney said.

- CNN's Jessica Yellin, Jim Acosta and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

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