Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday condemned the House’s effort to defund President Obama’s plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, saying that amid terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere, DHS’s budget “cannot become a political volleyball.’’
The strongly worded statement by Johnson — a lawyer who generally shies away from politics — came a day after House Republicans voted to approve a fiscal year 2015 DHS budget that strips away funding for two of the president’s most cherished and controversial immigration policies.
Obama’s recent initiative will give as many as 3.7 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents relief from deportation for up to three years.
By a 236-to 191 vote, the House on Wednesday passed a bill to fund DHS for the 2015 fiscal year without the two programs. With current homeland security funding set to expire on Feb. 27, Johnson blasted the chamber for what he characterized as holding the DHS budget hostage to political concerns.
“Recent world events — the terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives — call for increased vigilance in homeland security,’’ Johnson said. “In these times, the budget of the Department of Homeland Security cannot become a political volleyball.’’
Without an approved budget, he said, the department is now unable to fund key initiatives such as new grants to state and local law enforcement agencies and changes to the Secret Service recommended by an independent panel. “I respectfully urge Congress to pass an appropriations bill for DHS as soon as possible, free of politically-charged amendments to defund our executive actions,’’ he said.
It is unclear when the Senate will vote on the bill.