The current political fight about funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an unfortunate and misguided attempt by some congressional Republicans to stop the President from implementing humane and reasonable policies for the millions of this nation’s undocumented workers and their families.
The immigration system in this country is broken, and has been for some time. There are an estimated 12 million people residing in this country without documentation, many living and working in an underground, cash economy. Common sense immigration reform legislation would bring these workers fully into our economy. For example, farmers in my district have pleaded with me to support proposals that will help ensure they can have a reliable workforce of migrant workers that they depend on. The current dysfunction puts them at constant risk of losing their annual crop.
Without the executive actions proposed by the President, undocumented residents can face deportation that will rip their families apart. Children born in this country live in fear of their parents being deported at any time. And the so-called “DREAMers,” who were brought here by their parents while they were underage, often have no connection, including language skills, with their country of origin.. Moreover, many of these DREAMers are highly motivated to succeed in America, having a strong potential to create jobs and grow our economy.
In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform package that would begin to address these and other problems associated with our broken immigration system. The House of Representatives, under a Republican majority, refused to bring the proposal to the floor for a vote even though there were enough bipartisan votes in the House to pass the bill. Republican leaders made this decision in order to satisfy the party’s most hard-line members. Unfortunately, no reform was enacted.
President Obama has issued Executive Actions that would permit DHS to focus its resources on protecting our border and deporting those undocumented immigrants who pose the most risk to our communities and our nation. This would keep hard-working families from being torn apart. It would also allow DHS to handle unique events, like the 2014 surge of “unaccompanied minors” crossing our border in search of safety from violence in their home countries. These policies are humane, reasonable, and let DHS more effectively use its limited resources.
Shutting down DHS would be a mistake and would expose our communities to additional risks and attacks. Keeping Americans safe and secure is the highest priority of Congress, and this would be a true dereliction of duty. Let’s do the right and moral thing for our country and pass a clean appropriations bill that will fund DHS through the rest of this fiscal year.