With what has been happening in Europe, it’s almost easy to forget that the United States is wrestling with its own immigration problems (although to be fair, I haven’t watched any cable news show, so I haven’t seen any railing by Fox anchors about the wave of immigrants destined to ruin the country, or the MSNBC anchors railing about the Fox anchors and their inhumanity).
Europe’s actions towards immigration may seem more urgent, in that they are tackling more immediate terrorist threats. However, the debate over immigration has already threatened the Department of Homeland Security’s funding—it would have been forced to furlough some workers (essentially putting them in unpaid leave until funding resumes) and forced other workers to work without pay (since their work is deemed essential).
The issue of Homeland Security had been tied to Obama’s recent immigration initiative, in which a substantial number of undocumented immigrants (namely, those who were children when they came to the United States as undocumented immigrants). His immigration order has been challenged by a federal judge in Texas and now, obviously in Congress.
We may consider the issues of undocumented immigrants from largely Latin American countries as separate from terrorism, but by tying Homeland Security together with the immigration order, the Republicans have found themselves in a bind—with threats against the United States coming in everyday (including one general threat towards the Mall of America), the idea that the Department of Homeland Security might have its hands tied when the nation is attacked would be highly damaging to the Republican cause.
Obama’s immigration policy is one about which I have mixed feelings—on the one hand, my parents themselves were sponsored by their respective companies to come to the United States legally, stayed here for the required number of years, and became citizens. On the other hand, my parents benefited from a graduate education in Canada and the sponsorship of major companies. While they had struggled to attain a middle-class position in Canada, they still benefited from being able to obtain college education in Canada and higher education in Canada. Many immigrants who are leaving Latin American countries were not so lucky.
Nonetheless, brinkmanship relating to agency funding doesn’t impress most people. Most of the agencies that suffer from potential uncertainty caused by Congress fulfill necessary functions in the United States. Congress as a whole should move towards arguing over policy via bills that actually address said policy, rather than holding entire agencies hostage.
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