If funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out at the end of February, the federal government "would have little difficulty in implementing President [Barack] Obama's executive amnesty effort as planned," according to National Review Online
That's because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS), the agency responsible for processing applications related to the president's amnesty, receives its funding from fees paid by applicants.
That means it is not dependent on bitterly fought appropriations bills like other agencies within DHS, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol.
If DHS funding were cut off as a result of Republican amendments to the Homeland Security appropriations bill, it would have little effect on the ability of USCIS to implement Obama's executive amnesty efforts.
More than 97 percent of USCIS employees were exempt from the work stoppage that occurred when the government closed down in October 2013. According to the Congressional Research Service, nearly all of USCIS' programs continued in spite of the shutdown that took place.
One measure backed by many Republican members fighting the president's amnesty push is the Aderholt amendment. Introduced by Republican Reps. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, it "would actually have the force and effect of law by inhibiting the runaway executive branch from doing additional damage to the statutory immigration benefits and law enforcement system," according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies.
The amendment would bar the federal government from spending money to adjudicate applications for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and bar the funding for similar "executive action" programs such as those announced by the president in late November. It also would declare that these Obama policies lack any constitutional or statutory basis and have no legal effect.
The Aderholt amendment also would prohibit use of appropriated monies and Immigration Examinations Fee Account funds, which the Center for Immigration Studies describes as "the cash cow" relied on by USCIS to adjudicate applications submitted by illegal aliens.
Also, according to CIS
, the Aderholt amendment "forbids use of funds to further any of the misbegotten series of policy directives that have crippled interior immigration enforcement in recent years," including a series of memos written in 2011 and 2012 by former ICE Director John Morton making it harder for federal officials to deport illegal immigrants.
Obama's homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, has opposed any shutdown on grounds that it would prevent him from carrying out new projects and hiring new Secret Service agents for the 2016 election cycle.
But in his final oversight report on the Homeland Security Department, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn
details myriad problems with misspending and corruption in the agency, suggesting that there is considerable room for belt-tightening at DHS.
But advocates of a crackdown on illegal immigration have serious doubts that House Republicans will be able to push it through in the face of opposition from both the Obama administration and the GOP-controlled Senate.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, NRO warns, "a DHS shutdown could turn public opinion against Republicans deciding to take a stand against the president's executive action by withholding funding for the department."
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