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GOP's Brilliant Strategy Would Harm National Security and Shutter E-Verify — While Allowing Deferred Action to Keep Chugging

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The AP has a piece out today arguing that a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security may not be such a big deal, because critical programs and personnel would have to keep working even if the latter aren’t getting paid.

The piece misses the obvious point—the national morale and international PR disaster it would be for the United States legislature to refuse to fund its largest security department next to the Department of Defense.  Talk about emboldening terrorists—they’d be dancing in the streets.  Yet Republican restrictionists in Congress are so blind to reality that they’re willing to risk this just to pander to an extreme segment of their base on immigration.    

Just in case you’ve been avoiding the national news for three weeks, I’ll catch you up.  Threat of a DHS shutdown is the tactic being employed by anti-immigration restrictionists on the right. They are refusing to pass a bill funding DHS unless the President agrees to drop his immigration policies that prioritize the deportation of bad guys (and girls) over families.  The Republican-controlled House already passed a bill that would do just that, and last week the Republican-controlled Senate tried (and failed) to consider the same bill three different times.  But Senate Majority Leader McConnell seems inclined to keep trying, careening the nation closer and closer to a partial shutdown of DHS on February 27th.      

What’s ironic, though, is that one of the programs that would be shutdown at DHS under this fiasco is E-Verify.  This is the Big Government program that tells businesses who they can and cannot hire, based on the data contained in a mess of government databases.  There’s plenty of room for error—and plenty of errors made—in E-Verify, but restrictionists like CIS’ Mark Krikorian and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) still love it. 

To deepen the irony, there’s also this: one set of DHS personnel that would keep working—and collecting paychecks—are the employees who process immigration and other visa applications at USCIS.  Yes, this includes even the “dreaded” Obama deferred action programs that are the supposed target of this restrictionist strategy.  These functions are funded by the “user”—i.e. immigrants—not U.S. taxpayers, so they would keep going even while other agencies operate with diminished capacity or worse.  

So let’s get this straight: immigration opponents are pursuing a strategy that could shut down their favorite enforcement program in the Department of Homeland Security, keep the deferred action application process chugging along, and force thousands of people responsible for protecting our country from terrorism to work without pay.  

That’s one heckuva strategy.