GOP pushes flawed agenda

By Jubenal Aguilar

Copy Editor

The Republican Party elected to use the Department of Homeland Security as a political weapon in an attempt to force President Barack Obama to back down on his immigration initiatives. Shortly after Obama announced he would take executive action over immigration as a result of Congress not doing so, Republicans pledged to keep the program from being implemented.

The first threats came by way of forcing a lapse on DHS funding through an appropriations bill that excluded DHS. The department received funds through a continuing resolution, effective until Feb. 27.

GOP senators attempted to introduce a bill that would fund the department but attached a rider defunding the president’s immigration programs. A 51-48 vote against the bill showed the Democrats still hold enough power in the Senate to prevent Republicans from having their way.

The Senate vote allowed Speaker of the House John Boehner to place the blame on Democrats. “[They] are the ones standing in the way,” Boehner said in an interview with Fox News. “They’re the ones jeopardizing funding.”

However, we need to remember that Boehner has publicly stated that he is willing to let the DHS run out of money.

Republicans want to use the misconception that defunding the DHS will put the country in danger. Their hope must be that the public will blame the president and his party.

But what would really happen if DHS ran out of money?

First of all, most DHS employees fall under categories that exempt them from a government shutdown, although they would still suffer the consequences. According to a CNN article by Alexandra Jaffe, about 200,000 DHS employees continued to work during the government shutdown of 2013, many of them without pay. Only those performing management and administrative functions – about 30,000 employees – were sent on furlough, a forced temporary leave of absence.

So, national security would not really be affected as we’ve been led to believe, save for the thousands of officers who will work pro bono until a new funding agreement is made.

Second, personnel working for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services would not be affected either because the agency is entirely funded by the fees of applications for its services. Essentially, Congress can’t really stop Obama’s measures from starting.

An appropriations bill will need to be passed at some point – DHS is vital to the safety of the country, after all. And while its essential personnel may work for a short time without pay, eventually, compensation for their service will be necessary. Otherwise, mass resignations or strikes of border patrol and other security agents might ensue.

Then an ironic turn of events would unfold. Republicans would ultimately be responsible for the border becoming completely vulnerable when all they preach is stronger, tighter border controls.

The GOP should take a moment to reflect on the consequences of their senseless actions. They can’t take a piece of the government hostage for political gain and expect to win. Neither Obama nor the Democrats have shown signs of backing down on immigration. And the DHS cannot go long without funding.

The only way to achieve a favorable resolution for the DHS is to separate its funding from the immigration defunding rider.

But the states have already cleared the pathway for the GOP to have its way – at least for now.

The acceptance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s lawsuit in a Texas federal court against Obama’s executive action over immigration has halted the acceptance of applications.

Republicans have no excuse to pass an appropriations bill without anything else attached to it.

So they have two options. They can focus on working toward real solutions to the nation’s problems, or they can continue as is and blame everyone else for their own failures.

Republicans are playing with fire and are bound to get burned, probably in 2016.

On the bright side, the greatness of our political system shines through in all its glory. Republicans, who thought they would have total control over political matters, are faced with a president who will not budge and a minority party willing to push them to the limit.