Recently, the House of Representatives made headlines again in what is likely its first of many moves to interfere with and further delay the much-needed comprehensive immigration reform. Specifically, the Republicans in the House voted to block President Obama’s deferred deportations of millions of undocumented foreign nationals, including those foreign nationals who were brought to the U.S. as children (commonly called “dreamers”).
The 236-191 vote was made in connection with a broad bill whose purpose is to allocate nearly $40 billion in funds to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These funds are supposed to finance DHS operations through the rest of the fiscal year. While the bill’s vote was largely governed by party lines, it is worthy to note that 10 Republicans voted against the bill and that two moderate Democrats voted for it.
In the wake of the President’s immigration-related executive orders that he released in November, House Republicans pledged to reverse these orders and remove any protection from deportation for the estimated five million undocumented foreign nationals who stand to benefit from the President’s policies.
However, the Republican vote on this DHS spending bill goes above and beyond simply blocking the President’s new executive orders. Instead, the bill would also block the Obama Administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (commonly referred to as DACA), which has already benefited hundreds of thousands of young foreign nationals who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The Implications of the Vote
The vote marks the beginning of the Congressional negotiations over DHS funding, which is scheduled to expire in February. Speaker of the House John Boehner stated during the bill’s floor debate that the President’s unilateral actions in announcing the executive orders do not constitute a “good-faith attempt” at passing immigration reform. The vote indicates that the two chambers of Congress are likely going to take even longer to pass any sort of immigration reform because the political demographic of each chamber has now shifted as a result of the midterm elections.
To illustrate, it is highly unlikely that the bill the House passed could be passed, in any significantly similar format, by the Senate. Political pundits report that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requires at least six Democrats to vote in favor of the bill in order for it to advance to the President, and it is very doubtful that Mr. McConnell will be able to get these six Democratic votes.
Therefore, while immigrant rights’ advocates can rest easy, knowing that the bill will almost certainly die in the Senate, this recent action by the Republicans certainly offers no assurances that immigration reform will be reached in 2015.
It is abundantly clear that the current immigration system does not reflect the needs of the American people or the American economy. Instead of arguing with the President over his executive orders, Congress would be better served (and would better serve the American people) if they focused on passing immigration reform. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date news on this bill and all other immigration-related issues.
More Blog Posts
What Immigrants Need to Know About the Government Shutdown, ImmigRantings, October 10, 2013
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012