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Americans 'Would Not Support Immigration Reform that Included Amnesty'

Between then and now, he noted, Mexico has become more dangerous and the border fence has been expanded by a separate act of Congress. There are more Border Patrol agents and National Guardsmen deployed, though "the border is still very leaky." And President Obama's boasts about a decrease in illegal crossers, Sensenbrenner said, is "more a reflection of a bad economy" and fewer jobs luring immigrants.

And since Friday, deportation action has been suspended, by Obama's order, against an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children and can meet other criteria similar to the long-stalled DREAM Act.

"What Obama did is purely political," Sensenbrenner said, noting that last year the president said he didn't have the unilateral authority to pull such a move.

And he doesn't give Romney high points for his response to the campaign-season tactic.

On CBS' Face the Nation Sunday, Romney carefully responded by focusing on what he would do to secure the border and strengthen workplace enforcement. "I think the timing is pretty clear. If he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months," Romney said.

"I was disappointed," Sensenbrenner said. "He's only closed half the loop. What Obama has done is increased the pool of labor by as many as 800,000 people. …I think Romney should say the president overstepped his authority and say it is going to have an adverse effect on the labor market."

The congressional response to the policy change, he said, presents "more difficult questions." If the House passed something, the upper chamber wouldn't "when you have two top Democratic leaders in the Senate praising Obama to the skies." And even if legislation to counter Obama's order slid through, there wouldn't be enough votes to override a veto.

"This is an issue that the voters are going to have to decide," Sensenbrenner said. "There are many issues… Obama has just added one more to the list."

As far as the pleas from the president and Democratic leaders to pass a DREAM Act to fill in for Friday's "stopgap measure," the Wisconsin Republican won't be supporting something he calls "simply unfair" by giving the beneficiaries the opportunity to go to head of the line.

"The DREAM Act is wrong," Sensenbrenner said. "It gives a kind of amnesty to people who have broken the law."