President Barack Obama warned Monday of a potential blow to national security if the Republican-led Congress failed to fund the Department of Homeland Security by the time money expires at the end of this month.
DHS funding is threatened by a faction of Republicans demanding that any bill block the department from implementing Obama’s executive actions to let nearly five million undocumented immigrants temporarily stay and work in the country.
“They’re now threatening to let homeland security funding expire because of our disagreement with my actions to make our immigration system smarter, fairer and safer,” Obama said in a speech in Washington during a visit to DHS, on the day he rolled out his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016.
“Don’t jeopardize our national security over this disagreement,” he said. “Until they [Congress] pass a funding bill, it is the end of a paycheck for tens of thousands of front-line workers, who will continue to have to work without getting paid.”
The White House warned that more than 100,000 staffers who work on national security would not be paid for the duration of a DHS shutdown. They include:
—Over 40,000 Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Patrol officers
—Over 50,000 TSA aviation security screeners
—Over 13,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement law enforcement agents and officers
—Over 40,000 active duty Coast Guard military members
—Over 4,000 Secret Service law enforcement agents and officers
Conspicuously absent from the list is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency tasked with processing work permits for undocumented immigrants under Obama’s executive action. The reason is that USCIS is fee-funded and can carry out its work without a government appropriation.
“If Republicans let Homeland Security funding expire,” Obama said, “it’s the end to any new initiatives in the event that any new threat emerges.”