Republicans Vote to end DACA
The 114th Congress is in full swing and among the first things that the new congress took action on, was to pass a bill to overturn President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration. On Wednesday January 14th, 2015 the House of Representatives passed a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security but does away with DACA and other executive guidelines on deporting undocumented individuals.
President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and just recently expanded this measure by starting the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. Both of these programs protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally and in some states, it allows them to drive and go to college lawfully as well. But the House of Representatives voted to get rid of these programs and increase deportations by banning current beneficiaries from renovating their work permits.
One of the amendments on the bill would get rid of memos given to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services that meant to prioritize certain individuals for deportation. These memos instructed USCIS to delay removal proceedings for people who have been in America for a long time, have kids and have attended or are currently enrolled in college, among others. Likewise, these memos also directed USCIS to expedite the removal of criminals. However, this amendment which already passed the House, resurrects a very controversial program allowing local enforcement officials to hold individuals that could be suspected of being deportable by ICE. Lastly, this amendment prioritizes the deportation of domestic violence offenders but ironically could result in deportation of domestic violence victims as well.
Overall, Republicans have claimed that this bill is not about immigration but rather an attempt of checks and balances on the Executive Branch. Speaker John Boehner said:
“This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself”. – John Boehner (R-Ohio)
But Immigration Attorney Amna Shirazi from the Atlanta-based Shirazi Law Group, Inc is skeptical of their intentions:
“This bill is mere political theater since it would most definitely be vetoed by the President if it passes the Senate… It also adds uncertainty to the priority here, which is funding DHS” – Attorney Amna Shirazi.
Certainly, in the Senate this bill will find supporters like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) but it will still need 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle and it is very unlikely that Senate Democrats would support it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Kentucky) told Republicans not to “expect any miracles” since he only has 54 Republican votes and would still need 6 Democrats to detract from their party and take an improbable position against immigrants. But Senate Majority Whip, Senator Cornryn (R-Texas) has signaled that the bill will need to be amended significantly in order for the Department of Homeland Security to be funded by the February 27th, deadline.