HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF OPENS LARGEST IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTER IN U.S.

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Center specially designed to house migrant women and children

DILLEY, Texas — Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, came to this South Texas outpost on Monday to inaugurate a 50-acre detention center that will hold as many as 2,400 migrants caught crossing the Southwest border illegally, becoming the largest immigration detention facility in the country.

Though President Obama has offered work permits and protection from deportation to millions of unauthorized immigrants, he also ordered new policies to reinforce border security, hoping to prevent a new surge of illegal crossings. Mr. Johnson presided over the opening of the center in Dilley, 85 miles northeast of Laredo, to draw more attention to the border security pieces of the president’s executive actions, in response to the furor those actions caused.

The center is specially designed to house migrant women and their children, from babies to teenagers, as their deportation cases move through the courts.

A member of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights handed out information about how to join the group and gain access to immigration lawyers.Undocumented Immigrants Line Up for Door Opened by ObamaDEC. 14, 2014
Workers at a union headquarters in San Francisco watched President Obama’s televised remarks. Mr. Obama said millions of unauthorized workers could “come out of the shadows.”Obama, Daring Congress, Acts to Overhaul ImmigrationNOV. 20, 2014
Representative Harold Rogers, center, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has urged passage of a spending bill.In Immigration Fight, Republicans Explore Alternatives to a ShutdownNOV. 18, 2014
Standing on a barren dirt roadway lined with cabins in a fenced-in compound, Mr. Johnson delivered a blunt message to migrants without legal papers considering a trip to the United States. “It will now be more likely that you will be detained and sent back,” he said.

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Republicans have assailed Mr. Obama’s measures, saying he overstepped his constitutional authorities with a sweeping program of deportation reprieves that they predict will attract another wave of migrants like the one in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas last summer.

Republican leaders have vowed to halt the programs when they take control of Congress next year. More than 20 states, led by Republican officials in Texas, have sued to stop the federal government from issuing the deportation reprieves.

But the administration’s huge expansion of family detention has drawn similarly angry criticism from advocates and lawyers on the other side, who argue that prolonged confinement is inappropriate for young children and mothers who pose no security risks. Until now, the largest permanent facility for migrant families was a center in Pennsylvania with about 100 beds.

“There are no conditions that could make the mass incarceration of families right,” said Stephen Manning, an immigration lawyer who led a team of volunteers representing migrant women detained this year.

Mr. Johnson said the administration is making “a sharp distinction between past and future,” with all migrants who came illegally after Jan. 1, 2014, becoming top priorities for deportation.

“This must be clear,” Mr. Johnson said, “Our borders are not open to illegal migration.”

He chastised Republicans in Congress who expressed their dismay at Mr. Obama’s executive actions by funding the Department of Homeland Security only through the end of February in a spending bill passed this weekend.

Mr. Johnson said the short-term funding created “further jeopardy of homeland security,” after lawmakers did not pass a supplemental border spending bill the president sought over the summer. Mr. Johnson said he diverted several hundred million dollars from disaster emergency funds to pay for a surge of resources to the border last summer.

“Everyone agrees that border security is important,” Mr. Johnson said. “Now it’s time to step up and partner with this department to help support that.”

He announced three new task forces, including one focused on the Southwest border, to better combine enforcement resources from different, sometimes competing or overlapping homeland security agencies.

Here are the 24 Republicans who voted for the $1.1 trillion spending bill

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By Pete Kasperowicz

Twenty-four Republicans voted late Saturday night to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund most of the government through the end of fiscal year 2015, ending a full week of drama over whether the government might shut down.

The Senate approved the spending bill in a 56-40 vote that split both parties. While many Republicans supported the bill, many others were angry at the idea of approving a spending bill that doesn’t defund President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

Still, most Republicans voted for the measure — GOP members supported it 24-18 in the final vote. Republicans voting for the bill were Sens. Alexander, Ayotte, Barrasso, Blunt, Boozman, Burr, Coats, Cochran, Collins, Cornyn, Enzi, Fischer, Graham, Hatch, Hoeven, Isakson, Johanns, Kirk, McConnell, Murkowski, Roberts, Thune, Toomey and Wicker.

While Democrats were more predisposed to the huge funding bill, many were upset over language in the bill that eases federal regulations against banks. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led the charge against that issue, and she and several other Democrats voted against the bill. Overall, Democrats and Independents supported it 32-22.

Republican attempts to force a vote on immigration threatened to delay the spending bill vote until Monday, but by Saturday evening, the Senate agreed to hold an immigration vote that was demanded by Cruz.

While Republicans came away without any language that blocks Obama’s immigration plans, the bill only funds the Department of Homeland Security through February 27. That means the Republican-led House and Senate will have a chance in early 2015 to try again to fight Obama’s executive action.

Passage of the bill by the Senate sends it to the White House for Obama’s signature into law.

— This story was updated with final vote count numbers at 11:18 p.m.

You Won’t Believe This: Banker Bailout Round 2

Published on Dec 13, 2014
In a complete affront to the American voter, Congress just handed over a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill to a democratic controlled senate that will effectively hand power to the losing party through 2015. That’s the entire first year of the incoming Congress’ term being controlled by the party that the voters just kicked out. Is it revolution time yet?

Now Or Later: Why Not Wait to Fight Over Amnesty?

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By: Erick Erickson (Diary) | December 9th, 2014

This is, perhaps, the simplest and most easily understood argument against acting now to stop the President. Come January, the House of Representatives and the Senate will both be held by the Republican Party. It will, therefore, improve their leverage against the President and his unconstitutional amnesty. So we should wait.

Except . . . well . . . except there are some fundamental problems with the argument.

First and foremost, if Republicans really believe President Obama’s action is unconstitutional, they have sworn an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution. Funding the President’s amnesty plan now will violate that oath. It also establishes the precedent that the GOP is willing to fund illegal or unconstitutional acts of the President.

But there is more than that, and that is substantial in and of itself.

Beyond the funding of unconstitutional actions, if the GOP passes a continuing resolution now that only short term funds the Department of Homeland Security, they will be losing leverage because the only focus next year will be DHS. Right now the GOP can cause the President heartburn through the entirety of government.

Additionally, by waiting, the GOP is further and further removed from the offending action, which will cause both a loss of momentum and a loss of the public’s attention. Further, it is not clear that the GOP’s position in the Senate on the matter will be substantially improved in 2015, even with it gaining the majority.

Lastly, and importantly, if the GOP is not willing to fight right now, they will not fight at all and will instead fund the President and move on. In fact, they are even saying so.

But a GOP majority that has vowed new levels of efficiency in governing is unlikely to allow DHS funding to lapse, meaning that Obama and Democratic leaders will very likely be able to call the Republican bluff.

Remember, in 2013, Republicans said the fight against Obamacare needed to be on the continuing resolution, not the debt ceiling. Once the debt ceiling was extended, the GOP leadership said it needed to fight Obamacare on the next debt ceiling, not on the continuing resolution. When Cruz and Lee and Bridenstine et al held their ground, Republican Leaders used the “wrong fight” mantra and said they needed to use the debt ceiling to stop Obamacare.

Once the government reopened, the GOP also gave the President a blank check on the debt ceiling while doing nothing on Obamacare.

Republican leaders are already signaling they are moving on. They will not fight on amnesty. They are moving the goal posts. So if the Republican Party will not stop the President now, with the continuing resolution, they will both be funding an action they claim is unconstitutional and also setting up a 2015 agenda that quickly moves past the issue without doing anything.

In other words, it is now or never. If you do not make your voice heard immediately, the GOP will move on doing nothing to stop the President.

Public Will Have Little Time To Examine Massive Spending Bill

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ALEX PAPPAS
Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — Even if the details of the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill being crafted by Congress are made public sometime Tuesday, there won’t be much time to examine it before lawmakers vote on the measure.

Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats continued into Tuesday on the omnibus/continuing resolution package. Both parties are trying to come to a deal to pass legislation by Thursday’s deadline to keep the government from shutting down.

The package is expected to fund most government agencies, except for the Department of Homeland Security, through September. DHS, under the plan being considered, would only be funded through early next year so conservatives could use a fight over the agency’s funding to debate President Obama’s immigration executive order.

The public will likely have less than 60 hours to go through the plan if the details are released Tuesday.

Is that enough time under the previous standard set by Republicans?

Speaker John Boehner, for example, has spoken out before on the need for “adequate time” to release the details of such bills before lawmakers vote on them.

“If Democratic leaders plan to schedule a vote on the half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill next week,” Boehner said in 2009, “they should post the legislation online immediately so the American people have adequate time to read the measure and understand what is in it…Time is running short, and American taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned tax dollars will be used under this legislation.”

And in the Republican Party’s 2010 “Pledge to America,” the GOP said: “We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.”

Reached by The Daily Caller Tuesday, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel insisted that the spending bill will abide by those rules. “Any action on the CR/Omnibus legislation will conform to the House’s three-day rule,” he said.

That means in order to vote on the measure by the Thursday deadline, Republicans will count partial Tuesday, a full day Wednesday and partial Thursday as three days.

Boehner Won’t Commit to Defunding Executive Amnesty Next Year

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12:25 PM, DEC 4, 2014 • BY MICHAEL WARREN

John Boehner said he would not commit to bringing up a bill to strip critical funding from the Department of Homeland Security in the next Congress. Instead, the speaker of the House says there are “lots of options” for blocking President Obama’s executive order on immigration. At a Thursday press conference in the Capitol, Boehner did not guarantee the House would vote to block or cut off funding from DHS once Republicans had control of both houses of Congress in 2015.

John Boehner official portrait
“There are a lot of options on the table,” said Boehner in response to a question from THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals of what we could or couldn’t do. But I do know this. Come January, we’ll have a Republican House and a Republican Senate, and we’ll be in a stronger position to take actions.”

Boehner and House Republican leaders are pushing to pass a short-term funding package before the end of the current budget resolution next week. The package would allow Congress to revisit the funding for DHS, which is implementing the order, early next year. The Ohio Republican emphasized the current plan to address the immigration executive order in the next Congress gives the GOP the best chance for “keeping our leverage.” But, Boehner said, “we have limited options in how we can deal with this.”

The speaker’s remarks came on the day the House is expected to vote for a bill, sponsored by Florida Republican Ted Yoho, that would bar the administration from exempting certain categories of unlawful residents from deportation. Some conservatives have argued the bill can do little to roll back the executive order because it fails to target any funding. Homeland Security has already secured office space and is currently hiring full-time employees and contractors dedicated to processing cases falling under President Obama’s executive order.

The House will return for the final days of its lame-duck session next week to vote on the funding package before the December 11 deadline. Failing to pass the short-term spending bill will result in a government shutdown, but a small number of Republican House members have expressed their opposition to the plan and support cutting off funding from DHS during before next week’s deadline. To pass his bill, Boehner will likely need Democratic votes.

“I expect that we’ll have bipartisan support to pass the omnibus appropriations bill,” Boehner told reporters Thursday.

Update: The Yoho bill to “block” Obama’s executive order has passed the House, 219 to 197.

REPUBLICANS AGREE: EXECUTIVE ACTION UNCONSTITUTIONAL

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Democrats pushed back on the unconstitutionality argument

1:08 PM, DEC 3, 2014 • BY MICHAEL WARREN

Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s executive action on immigration opened with a video montage. Introduced by Republican chairman Bob Goodlatte during his opening statement, the Fox News-produced video featured clips of Obama repeating several times throughout his presidency that he did not have the authority to institute deferred action without congressional approval.

“It’s not how our system works,” said Obama in the video, over and over again. Needless to say, though Goodlatte said it anyway, Obama seems to have changed his mind. It was a devastating demonstration, with the president making the GOP’s own constitutionality

Democrats pushed back on the unconstitutionality argument, saying that the executive action fell under the president’s “prosecutorial discretion.” On Obama’s executive authority flip-fop, Democratic committee member Zoe Lofgren of California could only offer this defense: “If the president had said multiple times that five plus five is fifteen, and then he finally said five plus five equals ten, he would not be wrong when he finally said five pus five equals ten.” But what the House Republicans and their witnesses argued was that Lofgren has it backward: Obama’s was right when he said he couldn’t act unilaterally, and only when he reversed himself did the math get bad.

And so the hearing went on, Republicans making the case against the executive action and Democrats defending it. The proceedings were interrupted several times by the theatrics of immigration activists in the audience, who were eventually booted from the room by Capitol police. Many held signs reading, “House GOP, Don’t Deport My Family.” One activist stood up and looked directly at Iowa Republican Steve King, a primary bugaboo for immigration activists. “Do your job, Steve King,” the man repeated, ad nauseum, while police took an uncomfortably long time to remove him. During the whole ordeal, King just stared forward blankly.

King’s resigned expression might have summed up the feelings of congressional border hawks in the penultimate week of the lame duck session. Republican committee chairs had called hearings like this one and a Homeland Security hearing that morning to put on record GOP opposition at President Obama’s action. Meanwhile, House leaders like Speaker John Boehner were revealing a little more about how they planned to respond to Obama.

“We’re looking at a number of options in terms of how to address this. This is a serious breach of our Constitution,” Boehner said at a press briefing Tuesday. “It’s a serious threat to our system of government.” But, Boehner was quick to add, “we have limited options and limited ability to deal with it directly.”

Hence the high-profile hearings and the emerging legislative plan, which includes a House bill, drafted by Florida Republican Ted Yoho, to “block” Obama’s action. The bill has no teeth, and is sure not to pass the (still) Democratic Senate anyway, but as the Associated Press put it, it can “give outraged conservatives an outlet to vent.”

But border hawks don’t want to vent, Politico reported Wednesday morning. They’d like to block funding for the “executive amnesty,” preferably by passing a short-term spending bill that kicks the issue to the next, Republican-controlled Congress. The current spending resolution ends on December 11, and it was a goal of appropriators on both sides of the aisle in both houses to finish the lame-duck session with a neat and tidy omnibus spending bill that would fund the federal government through late next year. Boehner and House leadership are giving them almost that: a long-term spending bill with the option of “reviewing” Homeland Security appropriations early next year, which could give Republicans the chance to defund provisions of Obama’s executive action. For leadership, it’s a compromise that avoids what is seen as tocix “shutdown politics.” But for conservatives, it’s both a betrayal and a strategic error.

“I think a lot of us, in discussion, we don’t see the purpose of having a long [continuing budget resolution]. Why not do it the first day we’re in session?” John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, told Politico.

That’s the position of the Senate’s own border hawks, led by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, Louisiana’s David Vitter, and Utah’s Mike Lee. Texas senator Ted Cruz, the face of 2013’s “defund Obamacare” movement, has also gotten in the “power of the purse” business on immigration. On Monday evening, Heritage Action for America released a memo laying out how a House-passed bill that funds the entire government “while blocking the President’s executive actions on immigration” would be good politics.

House leadership remains unconvinced, and with December 11 looming, conservatives are running out of time the persuade members that a funding battle is the best path forward. Hearings or not, Republicans all agree on this: Obama’s action is unconstitutional, disregards Congress’s legislative authority, and constitutes a reversal of the president’s own position. What to do about it? The only consensus is that there is no consensus.