Charlie Hebdo, Homeland Security and Congress
The tragic slaughter of 12 people at the publication office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris has placed a spotlight on Congress Republicans. Moreover, it has also put Executive Action on Immigration as the topic of the day at Capitol Hill again. Here is why: President Barack Obama issued an Executive order designed to protect around 5.8 million undocumented immigrants from deportation through the programs Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Republicans decided to fight this law by funding all of the government agencies until next September but only funding the Department of Homeland Security until February 27, 2015.
Understandably so, Republicans in Congress have been taking fire this week after the Paris terrorist attacks because they intend to defund the agency that is meant to protect all Americans from these types of threats. The Speaker of the House stated:
“I believe that the president’s executive actions with regards to immigration are outside of the Constitution and outside of his powers. And I believe we can deal with that issue in the Department of Homeland Security bill without jeopardizing the security of our country” – John Boehner
The Speaker’s statement is not very far from the truth as explained on a previous article about whether or not a government shutdown could halt executive action. The truth is that during the last government shutdown, the agency in charge of most immigration matters (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services) remained functional since it is considered essential. Additionally, USCIS is funded greatly by filing fees. Nevertheless, the political consequence of Defunding DHS over immigration reform could be costly for Republicans because they would be blamed for technically putting the agency in charge of protecting Americans under budget restrictions.
The Department was created 11 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then, there have been no major terrorist tragedies on American Soil. Hence the responsibility of all elected officials to continue to ensure the security of all Americans through important agencies like DHS and USCSIS. This battle is simply ideological and petty political theater. President Obama has veto power over any legislation against his Executive Action on Immigration, and Republicans simply do not have the numbers to override a veto.
Attorney Amna Shirazi from the Shirazi Law Group, INC based in Atlanta, praises the President’s courage on immigration but laments the vulnerability of not funding DHS . She is an experienced immigration lawyer that has been able to stop deportations of hundreds of her clients, which helped keep their families together. Attorney Shirazi believes that the Executive Action on Immigration taken by President Obama is a good first step towards a comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that would be able to fix many of the issues that these temporary relief programs can only delay.