New GOP Plan Sets Up Showdown With Obama Over Immigration

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House Republicans are eying a vote next week to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive actions to shield millions from deportation and reshape immigration enforcement, a deeply contentious issue for both parties.

GOP leaders plan to link it to funding of the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces immigration law, through September. Funding for the department expires on Feb. 28.

The legislation will target Obama’s June 2012 program to shield young people from deportation, and the November 2014 move to expand that program and create a new one for undocumented parents of American citizens, according to a source familiar with it. The bill goes after the underpinnings of Obama’s immigration enforcement changes, specifically a 2011 administration memo that established new guidelines for deciding which immigrants to deport.

The House strategy threatens a partial shutdown of DHS if the bill fails to become law. Top Republicans have insisted that DHS will be funded.

“Rather than building upon the President’s bold move to keep families together, House Republicans have decided to threaten a partial government shutdown and play politics with the security of our homeland by appeasing the anti-immigrant and extreme right-wing of their Party,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said in a statement. “As the risk of terrorism rises, this perilous Republican tactic sends the worst possible message at a very dangerous time.”

The GOP plan is all but certain to face a veto threat from Obama, who has made clear he won’t sign a bill that reverses his moves on deportations.

If the proposal passes the House, it will pose an important test for newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It’s far from clear the bill can win 60 Senate votes to defeat a Democratic filibuster.

A DHS shutdown wouldn’t stop United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is largely fee-funded, from carrying out Obama’s programs to provide temporary work permits to qualified undocumented immigrants. But Congress can impose restrictions on how any funds, including fees, are spent, should such restrictions be signed into law by the president.

This article was updated at 1:06 p.m. to include a comment from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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