US Republicans tie immigration battle to security funding

Washington (AFP) – US Republicans unveiled plans Friday to wipe out President Barack Obama’s immigration reform efforts, seeking to restrict his executive authority on deferred deportations while linking the bid to vital national security funding.

The Republican-led House of Representatives will vote next week on legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security, whose budgetary authority expires February 27 thanks to a spending bill passed last month that curtailed the important agency’s funding.

While the bill would provide for normal DHS operations and fully fund border security and counter-terrorism from March through September, the end of fiscal year 2015, it includes special provisions that prevent Obama from carrying out his promised unilateral actions to suspend the deportation threat for millions of immigrants illegally in the United States.

And it goes further, reaching back to limit a 2012 provision imposed by Obama that has allowed certain immigrants who were brought to the country as children to remain in the United States.

The bill introduced Friday bars the government from funding Obama’s “unconstitutional and illegal” immigration plan, congressman Pete Sessions told reporters after a caucus meeting in the Capitol basement.

Republicans believe Obama abused his power in November by announcing that federal authorities would issue three-year work permits for millions of undocumented laborers.

Republicans who now lead both chambers of Congress aim to force Obama into a political dilemma: sign the law funding DHS and nullifying his own immigration plan, or veto it and risk a potential shutdown of homeland security operations in the midst of a tense security environment exacerbated by the recent terrorist attacks in France.

Asked if the Republican ploy risked a partial shutdown, Steve King, a House Republican who has taken the lead in opposing immigration reform, told reporters “it’s possible.”

But he stressed that essential services would continue “no matter what happens.”

A crucial debate ahead of the DHS funding expiration will occur in the Senate, where Democrats are in the minority but hold enough seats to block legislation from advancing.

Such a move could force Republicans to modify their proposal. Republican lawmakers gather for a closed-door retreat next week to discuss policy, and immigration is expected to be on the agenda.

Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative Republican who led the charge late last year against Obama’s immigration plan, said Thursday that Republican lawmakers “need to carry though on that promise” to block the president’s “illegal executive amnesty,” while acknowledging the need to fund DHS.

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US Republicans tie immigration battle to security funding
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