The U.S. House of Representatives voted today (January 13, 2015) to allow the deportation of individuals who would otherwise be protected by recent executive branch policies.
Representatives voted 236-191 to overturn the president’s executive order on immigration, issued in November. It directed federal officials to prioritize recent illegal immigrants, and those with criminal records, for enforcement, while allowing others to remain in the country. This vote was along party lines, with Republicans mostly for it, and Democrats against. Separately, they voted 218-209 to overturn the “Dreamer” provision that President Obama issued in 2012. This action protected against deportation those people who were brought to the United States when they were very young. Some Republicans crossed party lines to vote against this measure.
Both actions were tied to a bill reauthorizing funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is otherwise slated to run out in February. All of Oregon’s represenatatives voted against tying both provisions to DHS funding, with the exception of Oregon’s sole Republican, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who voted yes both times.
The bill moves now to the U.S. Senate, where it is considered to have slim prospects for passage. Republicans may not have majority support there, in particular for striking down the provision to protect Dreamers. Even if they can get 51 votes, they would not be able to get a filibutster-proof margin without attracting some Democratic support, which is unlikely. If the bill does make it to the president’s desk, he has said he will veto it.
UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) criticized GOP leaders for playing politics with homeland security funding, and urged the House to instead pursue comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
“House Republicans have let the most partisan wing of their caucus dictate an extreme agenda that has absolutely no chance of becoming law,” he said. “With so much unrest in the world, it is unimaginable that they would waste an entire week debating a bill that jeopardizes funding for an agency so critical to our national security. This isn’t the place for Congress to debate immigration policy.
“Given our current budget constraints, attempts at reversing the President’s efforts to prioritize deportations for felons and people who entered this country illegally would be counterproductive,” Schrader added. “If our Republican colleagues are interested having a conversation regarding our broken immigration system, it’s time to stop blocking all attempts to debate the comprehensive immigration reform our country needs. Immigration reform is good for the country, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for Oregon.”