What You Need to Know About the Possible Homeland Security Shutdown

Immigration

Why might the Department of Homeland Security shut down?
The Senate has been in a stalemate because of immigration amendments the House attached to the bill last month related to the executive orders issued by President Obama. These executive orders would defer deportations for millions of migrants who are now in the United States illegally. If the Senate and House can’t agree on a bill, the Department of Homeland Security will run out of funding at midnight Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

Why are the amendments on the bill causing such disarray?
Immigration amendments added to the DHS funding bill by Republicans would bar any federal funds from being used to carry out Obama’s executive orders to protect about four million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work in the United States. The amendments would also end a current Obama administration program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), that gives temporary legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Meanwhile, the president’s actions were temporarily put on hold earlier this month after a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction. The administration has sought to have that decision lifted.

Are there any plans in place to avoid the shutdown?
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted on a “clean” $39.7 billion U.S. Department of Homeland Security funding bill after Senate leaders agreed to strip out a clause blocking funding for the immigration-related executive actions. A separate vote conducted on Friday will allow senators to go on record in support or opposition to the president’s executive actions on immigration.

What happens if the bill does clear the Senate?
House Speaker John Boehner will have to bring the bill up for a vote. It is unclear at this time whether or not he will do so. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has repeatedly stated that there would be no more government shutdowns on his watch. House Speaker Boehner has been less adamant about a shutdown, facing pressure from conservatives who believe the party should fight at all costs to block President Obama’s immigration actions. Weekend sessions remain a possibility for lawmakers.

Are other government departments at risk of shutting down if this bill doesn’t pass?
No, this bill is specifically for funding the Department of Homeland Security.

What happens if Congress cannot agree by the Friday deadline?
About 30,000 DHS employees will be furloughed. However, more than 80 percent of the department’s 240,000 will still have to report for work because their jobs are deemed essential to the safety of the nation. Those workers will not be paid.

What is included in the Department of Homeland Security?
The Department of Homeland Security includes Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Berardi Immigration Law is committed to monitoring these developments closely and informing our clients of important updates. If you wish to consult with one of our attorneys, please contact our office to schedule a consultation today!

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