IN THE latest political show vote on Capitol Hill, Republicans are protesting President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, enacted in November, by trying to attach language undoing them to a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security. The attempt is going nowhere: Earlier this week, Democrats in the Senate blocked the bill from reaching Obama’s desk. At the same time, the president has vowed to veto any legislation that reverses his immigration measures.
This game of political chicken has to end with the Republicans blinking. It’s one thing to disagree with the president’s executive actions, but it’s another thing altogether to hold crucial funding for a wide range of security programs hostage.
Republicans who believe Obama’s executive orders are an abuse of power should instesad look for remedy in the courts. If Obama overstepped, the surest way to reverse his orders would be through a judicial ruling. Meanwhile, Congress should pass a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill that funds the agency without the immigration language.
Obama enacted the executive orders only after the House refused to a vote on a Senate-passed bill that would have overhauled our current immigration system. In retaliation, the GOP decided to attack the president’s orders at the funding source: DHS. The Republican bill included so-called “poison pill” amendments that prevent the use of DHS funds or fees to enforce Obama’s executive actions, which will benefit about 4 million undocumented immigrants by shielding them from deportation while also allowing them to apply for work permits. The amendments also prevent the use of any funds to continue implementing a 2012 order that protected some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Along with some Republicans who voted against the bill in the House and the Senate, three former secretaries of Homeland Security have also urged the GOP to stop using the agency’s budget as a political weapon. Republicans Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and Democrat Janet Napolitano, wrote to Republican leadership: “DHS’s responsibilities are much broader than its responsibility to oversee the federal immigration agencies and to protect our borders… Funding for the entire agency should not be put in jeopardy by the debate about immigration.” They called for a clean funding bill for the rest of the year, like the one Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski and New Hampshire and Senator Jeanne Shaheen filed last week.