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Even before any details were known about President Obama’s speech on immigration, members of both parties were already locked in a verbal duel about the merits of his executive actions, signaling what may be a sharply contested debate that seems sure to spill into the New Year.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the country,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) to reporters gathered off the House floor.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interests of immigration reform,” Cole added.

But just a few feet away, Democrats praised the President’s unilateral action, arguing immigration changes cannot stay on hold in the Congress forever.

“The nation has to move; the Congress has not done it,” said Rep. David Scott (D-GA).

“The President has the authority,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who said it was time for the President to be aggressive in the fight over immigration reform.

Other Democrats echoed that on social media as well:

Republicans, meanwhile were thoroughly aggravated at the talk of giving a legal status to millions of people in the United States illegally.

“He is making a political move,” said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who accused the White House of “provoking a crisis.”

After making his speech on Thursday night – which won’t be carried live by CBS, NBC, ABC or FOX – the President will fly to Las Vegas on Friday to make a sales pitch for his plans.

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