Democrats are losing some legislative skirmishes over the Department of Homeland Security.

But many feel they're winning a political war that will haunt Republicans in 2016 and beyond.

Democrats so far have failed to force Republicans to fund the department for a year, with no strings attached.

Still, even some Republicans say their party has chosen a perilous path. The very public ideological struggle only highlights Republicans' inability to pass contested legislation.

And it might worsen Republicans' weak relationship with Hispanic voters.

Conservative Republicans defend their approach. They say they're courageously keeping promises to oppose President Barack Obama's liberalization of deportation policies, which they consider unconstitutional.

They say a temporary and partial funding lapse for Homeland Security is an acceptable cost of fighting a president's unlawful overreach.