CREDIT: Ross D. Franklin/ AP
On the tenth day of the government shutdown, the House of Representatives passed a short-term, continuing resolution bill that would restore funding to immigration agencies and border security through December 15th. The bill provides immediate funding relief through December 15th for border security and immigration enforcement programs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so that services like detaining and deporting immigrants can continue.
Since the shutdown began, 84 percent of DHS employees, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents remain at work. Border agents and TSA security staff are still screening people entering the country, essential visa applications are still being processed, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are still detaining and deporting immigrants.
The border security bill is the latest of 13 selective funding bills passed by House Republicans. Democrats have criticized House Republicans for “cherry-picking” piecemeal issues rather than fixing all critical components of the government. Other bills have focused on the most visible aspects of the shutdown, seeking to re-open national parks and restore the ability of the National Institute of Health to help cancer patients.
Still, 21 House Democrats voted with 228 House Republicans to pass the border security bill, which costs $18.8 billion to enact.
The bill’s author, Rep. John Carter (R-TX) is a former core member of the House ‘Gang Of Seven’ immigration group, which sought out a bipartisan fix to the border security issue. He rejected the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, which includes strong border provisions, saying that it was “dead on arrival in the House of Representatives.”
Meanwhile, House Republicans are now toying with the idea to keep the shutdown going for another six weeks, which could cost an additional $6.7 billion and endanger many low-income people who rely on federal programs to survive. After just ten days of the shutdown, some schools are facing dire budget cutbacks which are necessary for some special education students, a federal Heating Energy Assistance program doesn’t have any money appropriated for the winter, and North Carolina has run out of food aid for more than 50,000 mothers and children.