Landrieu Splits With Obama On Immigration Action

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's immigration action, hoping the latest controversy involving the unpopular president doesn't worsen her already difficult re-election campaign.

         By executive order, Obama extended legal protection to keep nearly 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally from being deported.

         "We are all frustrated with our broken immigration system, but the way forward is not unilateral action by the president," Landrieu said in a statement.

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         But Republicans on Friday were using Obama's announcement as another point of attack against Landrieu.

         The GOP says Democrats refused to rein in Obama's overreach. They see the immigration debate as a way to needle Landrieu and help her GOP challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, heading into the final stretch before the Dec. 6 runoff election.

         State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere described Cassidy as "a necessary check" on the president in contrast with Landrieu, who Villere called a "rubber stamp" for Obama.

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         Louisiana is trending more Republican and Obama is highly unpopular in the state.

         With GOP leaders continuing to tie Landrieu to the president, the three-term Democratic senator has had trouble breaking the connection that helped Republicans win elections around the country earlier this month and regain control of the Senate.

         Landrieu says voters in Louisiana should focus on local issues, and she repeatedly talks of her work with presidents and majority leaders from both parties during her 18 years in the Senate.

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         Cassidy, meanwhile, has been running a TV ad in anticipation of Obama's executive action on immigration, calling it "amnesty" and saying he'll fight it. The ad shows a photo of Obama and Landrieu together and repeats Cassidy's well-worn claim that the Democratic senator votes with Obama "97 percent of the time."

         Landrieu points to a bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate last year that she supported. House Republicans never moved on the measure, which would have offered a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrants here illegally.

         "This bill secures the Southwest border by doubling the number of border patrol agents to 40,000 and adds 700 miles of smart fence. It also requires undocumented immigrants already here to go to the back of the line, pay a penalty and learn English before being able to earn citizenship. The real solution to fix our immigration system is for the House of Representatives to pass or amend the bipartisan Senate bill," Landrieu said.

         Cassidy's campaign said if Landrieu disagreed with the president's executive action on immigration, she shouldn't have voted to block a proposal that would have kept Obama from taking such unilateral action.

         "Instead of fighting for Louisiana, Sen. Landrieu placed the president's interests first," Cassidy campaign spokesman John Cummins said in a statement.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte

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