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Hillary Clinton, widely considered to be a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, tweeted her thanks after President Barack Obama announced sweeping executive action on immigration Thursday night.

And the former secretary of state echoed the president's call for comprehensive legislation to address immigration reform.

In a longer written statement, Clinton said she supports the decision and blamed the "abdication of responsibility" of Congress for failing to address the issue sooner. "We should never forget that we’re not discussing abstract statistics – we’re talking about real families with real experiences," she said. "We’re talking about parents lying awake at night afraid of a knock on the door that could tear their families apart, people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to contribute to the community and build better lives for themselves and their children."

In his remarks, Obama acknowledged how politically fraught the issue of immigration reform is, noting the prolonged and ultimately fruitless battle to pass comprehensive immigration legislation into law last year.

"For all the back-and-forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger," he said. "It's about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations."

Republicans have vowed to fight the action, which they call an executive overreach that's unfair to legal immigrants. But some GOP observers fret that too much opposition to reform could further alienate Latinos and close off Republicans' path to the presidency as they grow in political clout.