In their latest attempt to rid the nation of the President’s 2014 immigration executive actions, House Republicans have linked the continued funding of Homeland Security to the defunding of the latest immigration reform. The two parties were clearly not trading heart-shaped candies with loving inscriptions this past Valentine’s Day weekend.
Senate Democrats blocked the GOP funding bill three times last week, which would provide $39.7 billion for Homeland Security. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently spoke out against the funding measure: “Republicans should stop holding our Homeland Security hostage and bring forward a clean, long-term funding bill immediately.” The department agrees with her.
“We’re in trying times right now, and we need a clean appropriations bill for Homeland Security,” Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, told the press.
What could be so damaging in the President’s immigration policy that the GOP has to threaten the department of Homeland Security? Family.
Last November, the President unveiled a new immigration policy in the form of an executive action, due to the inaction of Congress on the matter.
Under the policy, an illegal immigrant can apply for deferment if they arrived in the United States before 2010 and under the age of 16, or arrived before 2010 and have a child who is a legal resident or US citizen.
The action is essentially an expansion of 2012’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
Ted Cruz was one of many Republicans to denounce the policy as an “executive amnesty.” Considering the Texas Senator doesn’t understand what a plaintiff is, it comes as no surprise he doesn’t understand how a deferred action works.
Under this policy, immigrants can apply for a deferred action. This protects immigrants from deportation for three years (under the original DACA it was 2 years). Deferred action does not grant legal status to illegal immigrants. Although the deferred action is renewable, it can also be terminated by Homeland Security anytime.
To be considered for a deferred action, immigrants must pass a background check. Immigrants who are “suspected of terrorism, violent criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers” go to the top of the deportation priority list.
Although undocumented immigrants pay state and local taxes ($10.6 billion in 2010), a deferred action immigrant will pay federal taxes.
A November 2014 report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reads that the President’s executive actions will increase the nation’s gross domestic product by 0.9% (equal to $210 billion) over ten years. As a result, the series of actions could also cut the deficits by $60 billion.
Another talking point you commonly hear from the extreme right wing is that immigration reform will take jobs from American workers or lower wages, both of which were found to be false when the CBO analyzed the Gang of Eights’ immigration bill. The findings reach a similar conclusion on this set of current actions.
Like the Gang of Eight bill, the actions were found to increase wages in the long term. By 2024, wages are anticipated to increase by 0.3% and the actions are expected to “have no impact on the likelihood of employment for U.S. – born workers.”
What could go wrong?
“The country’s going to go nuts…” Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn told USA Today in response to the policy. “You’re going to see – hopefully not – but you could see instances of anarchy… you could see violence.” Whew, for a moment there I thought he was going to overreact.
Like most claims from the GOP lately, this never happened.
The nation’s immigration agencies are funded under Homeland Security, which is why the GOP has put the department in their financial crosshairs.
“The notion that we could risk the effectiveness of the department that is charged with preventing terrorism and patrolling our borders, making sure the American people are safe makes absolutely no sense.” President Obama said on February 3rd.
Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. When asked by Wallace if Boehner was “prepared” to allow the defunding of Homeland Security, he responded: “Certainly. The House has acted. We’ve done our job.” Boehner’s statements echo those made by Ted Cruz during a Thursday, February 12 press conference.
One reason the House Speaker sounds so confident is because he believes the Senate Democrats will face the fall out if the Department of Homeland Security is defunded.
The tactic is nearly identical to the method used that resulted in 2013’s government shutdown. Spearheaded by Senator Cruz, the GOP threatened to shutdown the government unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded. They ultimately failed, but not before putting thousands of people out of work and shutting down the CDC’s infectious disease surveillance support for states.
The Republican solution to any policy they perceive as a problem tends to do far more harm than good.
“Every time the Republicans think our strategy is gonna work out politically and the President will be seen as the one who has stopped the workings of government, it has not worked that well for us and we have been the ones to blame,” Florida Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill.
Also speaking with The Hill, Iowa Republican Representative David Young told the publication: “I don’t want to shut down the government, particularly the Department of Homeland Security. Are you serious? These are dangerous times, and we can’t be playing politics with our national security.”
You already are.
Update 02/19/2015: Shortly after my posting, Federal Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas (who saw that coming?), temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s immigration executive actions.
Although the Justice Department has already announced it will appeal the decision, now would be the time for the GOP to quickly crawl out of the hole it dug for itself by passing a clean funding bill for Homeland Security through the House. As of this writing, they have yet to do so.
Update 02/24/2015: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will allow a vote on a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. However, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wants to know the House Speaker is on board with McConnell’s offer, guaranteeing passage in the House: “Unless Boehner’s in on the deal, it won’t happen.”
Naturally, Ted Cruz thinks offering a clean bill to insure 30,000 DHS employees are not furloughed this Friday is a “mistake“… because he’s Ted Cruz.