House Republicans on Wednesday voted to pass a bill that would defund not just President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration, but also years worth of his administration’s other immigration policies.
An amendment to a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the year prohibits the department from spending any money to process applications for Obama’s deferred deportation programs.
These include the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has been in place since 2012 and has already protected about 600,000 young people brought to the United States as children. They have all undergone criminal background checks, and many already have work permits.
The House’s anti-immigration amendment also defunds Obama’s 2014 executive order, which slightly expanded DACA and extended protection to more than four million unauthorized immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens.
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The anti-immigration amendment was sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who is also the co-sponsor of a federal bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for fetal anomalies or for a woman’s health unless her life is in danger.
The amendment passed narrowly, 218 to 209, largely because 26 moderate Republicans refused to vote for it. Many of them, like Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), represent heavily Latino districts.
Denham has spoken out against defunding DACA in particular. “Just picking on the children that came here through no fault of their own I think is the wrong way to start,” he said.
Notably, the Republican proposal doesn’t require more deportations or increase enforcement—it merely forces more immigrants to live in constant fear of deportation.
Congress only gives immigration enforcers enough money to deport about 400,000 unauthorized immigrants per year. Since roughly 11 million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States, enforcers have to prioritize who to spend money on deporting and who to leave in peace. That’s where Obama’s executive actions and other directives come in, and that priority-setting is what Republican lawmakers seek to upend.
The measure won’t become law anytime soon since Obama has vowed to veto anything that undermines his immigration actions, but it does threaten a partial government shutdown and shed light on Republican values when it comes to immigrant communities.