Could amendments to the House bill be the end of Obama’s immigration overreach?
Yesterday, the House Appropriation’s Committee released their plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security, making it the last federal agency to receive funding for this fiscal year.
The appropriation bill provides additional funding and reallocates resources to strengthen border security and significantly enhance immigration enforcement.
The House will debate the appropriation bill next week. Several amendments to the House appropriation bill have already been submitted.
In order to prevent implementation of President Obama’s immigration overreach, amendments to the appropriation bill further restrict where and how DHS funds will be spent. This was by design.
As we’ve reported, at the center of this debate lies United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS); the department responsible for processing immigration petitions.
USCIS does not receive federal funding from appropriations as it sustains itself on fees collected from petitions. The vast majority of petitions filed with USCIS are filed by immigrants in the United States legally. Whether they are applying for an extension of their green card, changing their visa type, extending lawful status, or applying for naturalization, these petitions (and many, many others) are all processed by USCIS.
The same department that processes petitions for legal immigrants is also responsible to adjudicating work authorization for “Obama’s amnesty.” (As a relevant side note, amnesty is not tantamount to citizenship, but we’ll continue that discussion/exposition in a separate post at a future date). To unilaterally defund USCIS would have inconceivable ramifications and ultimately punish more legal immigrants who’ve paid thousand of dollars and “waited in line,” than deter those here without any current legal status.
Effectively pulling the teeth from President Obama’s immigration overreach requires a significant amount of creative finesse by Congressional Republicans. Rep. Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Mulvaney (R-SC), and Rep. Barletta (R-PA) have introduced an amendment to the House DHS appropriation bill that if passed, would do just that.
Their amendment specifically prohibits any fees collected by USCIS from being used for “Obama’s amnesty” among a host of other extra-legal orders. Diving all the way back to March 2, 2011, this particular amendment addresses each immigration overreach individually, and prohibits their funding.
To date, four other amendments have been filed.
Rep. Blackburn’s (R-TN) proposed amendment would prohibit federal funds from being used in the renewal, extension, or appeal of work authorization for those who may have received immigration benefits from President Obama’s Executive Order. Meanwhile, Rep. Schock’s (R-IL) amendment lectures USCIS for placing the “interests of aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States ahead of the interests of aliens who are following proper immigration laws and procedures.”
Republicans face an uphill battle as President Obama has indicated he’s unwilling to sign any bill that would unravel his immigration Executive Action. Lacking the sixty-seven votes required in the Senate to override a presidential veto may also prove problematic.
Regardless, those hoping the 114th Congress would make good on their promises to provide substantive immigration reform can rest easy knowing their elected officials have come out of the gate, guns blazing.
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