Sen. Ted Cruz has vowed to make the road to implementing the executive order on immigration very rough for President Barack Obama – so rough, that perhaps the destination will not be reached.
The Texas Republicans is one of the most outspoken critics of the order, which could give some 5 million undocumented immigrants a three-year relief from deportation, as well as work permits and some federal benefits.
Now, with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, Cruz and others in his party who condemned the president’s unilateral action said they would fight back through purse strings – by manipulating funding to the Department of Homeland Security so that there’s insufficient or no money to make parts of order a reality.
Supporters of the order say they are ready and even eager for a fight by Republicans, according to Politico.
They say that to fight the president’s effort to suspend deportation temporarily would be tantamount to reinforcing the GOP’s image as hostile to immigrants and Latinos.
“The idea that a partial shutdown of DHS is going to get Obama to cave on a signature second-term accomplishment is fantasy,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, in Politico. “It’s much more likely that the politics will blow up in the face of Republicans, and that they’ll be seen by Latinos and immigrants as hostile.”
Cruz, who made headlines in 2013 when he spearheaded the controversial effort to defund the president’s Affordable Care Act, prompting a government shutdown, said that the GOP must stand up to Obama’s executive order.
“If Republicans stand united in January or February and use the constitutional check and balance, the power of the purse, to stop President Obama’s illegal amnesty, nobody will be happier than I,” Politico quoted Cruz as saying.
Advocates for more lenient immigration policies are working to bolster momentum for the executive order, holding information sessions around the country for people who might be eligible, and encouraging those immigrants to apply. Their thinking is that by getting the ball rolling, it will be hard to stop.
“The best defense of this action is getting people informed about what they’re going to be eligible for and making implementation as accessible as possible,” Politico quoted Kelly Rodriguez, assistant to the executive vice president at the AFL-CIO, as saying. “Once people realize what they have right now, it’s going to be really hard to try to take it away.”
More than 250,000 of the AFC-CIO’s members and their families could qualify for the executive actions, Politico said.
During the lame-duck session, the GOP voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security until the end of February so that they could take up the executive action fight again – when they will be in control of all of Congress.
Many DHS workers would be untouched by a defunding effort because they are considered essential. And the agency that is pivotal to the implementation of most of Obama’s executive order is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is funded through user fees and would continue to operate even in the event of a shutdown.
“Will the House majority really be willing to let front-line agents and officers at [Customs and Border Protection] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] work without pay?” North Carolina Rep. David Price, the top Democrat on the House panel that oversees DHS funding, testified in December. “Would the House majority be willing to let Coast Guard military personnel continue to risk their lives at sea without compensation?”