This Tuesday the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, had the pleasure of appearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security to defend the President's executive action on immigration.
The only issue the committee and Johnson agreed on is that our immigration system is broken. Other than that the President's actions have been labeled illegal, a threat to democracy, and some Republicans began circulating bill language stipulating that no money or fees "may be used by any agency to implement, administer, enforce or carry out any of the policy changes" announced by Obama.
I blogged on November 19 about the misplaced non-funding and non-appropriation threats and explained how immigration benefits are self-funded by the beneficiaries of those benefits. I am not a politician or mathematician, but somebody needs to explain to me how the "power of the purse" has any power in this case.
What we do know is that the cost administering and granting immigration benefits under the executive action, e.g. the issuance of work permits, is paid for by the applicants by way of filing fees. We also know that the President's executive action will prevent the deportation of approximately five million people. Well, as you will have guessed, deportation is hardly an immigration benefit and thus not funded by the "beneficiaries" of such action. The Congress has appropriated Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) 5.34 billion dollars to execute their law enforcement duties such as apprehending and deporting illegal immigrants. It seems to me if we are not deporting over five million people, we're not incurring any additional costs, but we're saving a lot of money instead.
Hence, you can't defund something which doesn't cost anything and you can't defund something which safes money. You be the jury and decide whether the opponents of immigration executive action really have the power of the purse...