In the post-2014 election afterglow, Republican leaders in both the House and Senate pledged that their newfound majority in both congressional chambers would demonstrate the GOP’s ability to govern in a responsible manner. With Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding set to expire in two days, it’s clear that this happy talk has run headlong into a different reality.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
The GOP’s rabid, anti-immigrant obsession is making them incapable of even basic tasks of governance, like funding critical components of the government. Republican leaders’ loyalty to anti-immigration hardliners has lead to infighting that risks the nation’s security. In fact, the Party’s two leaders in Congress have not even spoken in the past two weeks. That’s no way to run a railroad, much less the U.S. Congress.
Polls show that Americans will blame Republicans for a shutdown. But the irony of all ironies here is that the DHS strategy crafted by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL), and others actually works against their stated goals. Perhaps all the right-wing anger and the lack of a consensus way forward is blinding them to a few facts:
- Some of the GOP’s most beloved immigration enforcement programs would be halted by a shutdown. There’s E-Verify, the Big Government database of who is and is not authorized to work in the US, that is beloved by the likes of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and CIS’s Mark Krikorian. E-Verify was the subject of a whole House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, with Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) saying, “Expanding E-Verify nationwide is a critical component to the interior enforcement of our immigration laws,” and Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) saying, “A key part of the internal enforcement of our immigration laws is employment verification.” But E-Verify would shut down if DHS does.
- And there’s border security measures. According to the New York Times , a DHS shutdown would mean that “Customs and Border Protection would not receive the $90 million it needs for both remote and mobile video surveillance in the Rio Grande Valley. And the roughly $2.5 billion that the department provides in grants each year would halt.”
- Meanwhile, USCIS, the agency processing immigration, visa, and other applications, is funded by users — i.e. immigrants — not U.S. taxpayers. The agency essentially can’t be defunded. Yes, DACA+/DAPA are temporarily on hold, due to Judge Hanen’s ruling last week. But even if the programs were up and running today, defunding DHS wouldn’t be a way to stop USCIS from accepting and processing applications. It would be the height of irony if the GOP, in an attempt to stop executive action, furloughs or withholds pay from thousands of DHS employees except the ones processing executive action.
The GOP is being reckless with national security to advance a strategy that, even from their point of view, makes no sense. They picked the wrong fight, the wrong way, at the wrong time. It’s time to stop the politicking and pass a bill that funds the DHS cleanly, before it’s too late.