For those old enough to remember, The US Department of Home Security (DHS) was borne in the aftermath of the horrific Al Qaeda attacks on the USA on September 11th, 2001, and was created in 2002. The agency is a collection of former smaller, independent federal organizations as well as newer functions and responsibilities, ALL of which are designed to help protect the USA from another terrorist attack.
Shortly after the November 2014 mid-term elections, president Obama issued an executive order sparing certain non-criminal illegal immigrants with families the horror and fear of being ripped apart via deportation. He also provided a framework for the issuance of renewable three-year work permits so that these families would neither starve to death nor need public assistance for their survival. In California, with the highest population of any state in the USA affected by this executive order, the news was well-received by the undocumented workers,as well as by the large mega-corporations which hire these people at low wages to work jobs such as harvesting fruit, something that most Americans simply refuse to do.
Other beneficiaries included tax-dependent state and federal budgets, which will now be collecting state and federal taxes from these workers.
Of course, the anti-immigration ultra-extremist Tea Party faction of the GOP had a hissy fit over this. They deeply believe that America is ONLY for Americans, and that the legal immigration is the only (flawed) way into this country. They ignore facts, such as their own ancestors, immigrants themselves, were allowed to enter the USA by just showing up at the immigration desk at ports of entry, such as Ellis Island, NY. They ignore the fact that mega-corporate America LOVES these hard-working, low-pay undocumented workers, who make enormous profits for them.
They also ignore the fact that the USA’s immigration system is hopelessly flawed, underfunded, and understaffed, and archaic.
So last December, the GOP agreed to fund every government agency through FY 2015 (September 30th, 2015). All…except DHS, which administers immigration matters. DHS was funded only through February 28th, 2015. The next day funding ceases, and roughly 30,000 federal DHS workers face furlough, unless a new funding bill is approved by the GOP-dominated congress and the president signs it into law.
The sticking issue is Obama’s executive order on immigration. The GOP wants the DHS funding bill include have language which would reverse the president’s executive order. Of course, the president would veto such a “dirty” bill.
Interestingly, the GOP-dominated senate is prepared, after numerous “dirty” bills were filibustered by the minority senate democrats (a maneuver perfected by the republicans when they were the minority party…which is why you don’t hear much GOP criticism of it), to pass a clean bill and send it to the House of Representatives, where no such filibuster rules exists.
The House GOP congresspeople are divided regarding whether pass the senate’s “clean” bill or simply insist on their own “dirty” bill which has NO chance of becoming law, allowing DHS to partially shut down. The wiser mainstream republicans KNOW they will be blamed by the American people if the agency responsible for protecting the homeland against terrorism is weakened, especially at this time of increased concern over the Islamic State and other brutal extremist terrorist groups.
Assuming DHS remains unfunded as of close of business (COB) on Friday, 85% of DHS personnel would NOT be furloughed. But they will be forced to work for free as long as the furlough lasts. Eventually they will get their delayed paychecks if/when the furlough ends, but during the furlough they will not get paid. Their only choices would be to work as modern day slaves, or resign their jobs, which isn’t going to happen.
The 30,000 or so DHS employees who WILL be furloughed will obviously not receive their paychecks. And while they probably get paid for that lost time if/when they return work, how do they pay their bills in the meantime?
Perhaps the worst affect will be from the parts of DHS that WILL shut down. Though not DIRECTLY involved in protection services, they do provide critical support functions for the front-liners. That support will not be there.
The mere thought that the right wing of the GOP would use DHS as their political football is irresponsible and stupid at best, and dangerous and incredibly delusional self at worst. It is also the most self-damaging action the GOP could take possibly take against ITSELF, particularly at a time of increased threat against the western civilized world. That’s the reason the democrats can afford to stand their ground on the insistence of a “clean” DHS funding bill.
So stay tuned. The smart money, if there is such a thing in this crap shoot, says the GOP House will publicly shoot itself in foot before all is said and done. If it lasts long enough, maybe THEY will be done.
Ed. note 2-28-15: So the GOP House passed a one week extension before they face the inevitable. Meanwhile, 32,000 federal employees continue to live in uncertainly because of the infantile actions of at least 60 ultra-conservative House republicans. Any have any doubt how this is going to end (BADLY for the GOP, no doubt)…?