With President Obama set to announce another executive action on immigration this week, the newly-elected Republican majority in Congress is threatening countermeasures to thwart whatever program the president wants. Last week there was loud talk about forcing yet another government shutdown if the president takes any action on immigration. Cooler heads among the Republican base have counseled against this.
I have to say I was bemused and amused by the "government shutdown" threat. Setting aside the enormous problems that a shutdown causes across all areas of civic and economic life, the threatmakers must have very little understanding of how our immigration system is actually run. As I detailed during last year's government shutdown, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service-- which is the agency responsible for processing DACA applications and probably any new executive programs--goes right on working when the government is shutdown. It's funded by filing fees, not taxes.
What effect would a shutdown have on immigration? Well, it would slow down deportations, because the only cases that the immigration courts would hear would be for immigrants in prison. It would delay the entry of legal immigrants who already have approved petitions from employers or family, because the U.S. consulates overseas would not be able to conduct visa interviews. A shutdown would also halt the labor certifications needed for highly-skilled immigrant workers.
So, in response to the President proposing to allow a larger class of immigrants to stay in the United States without fear of deportation, his Congressional opponents threaten to slow down deportations, block legal immigrants from getting visas, and throw a monkey wrench in business hiring practices? Good plan, guys.