ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – In a matter of days, the Department of Homeland Security could lose its funding, resulting in a shutdown of the department. Some of New Mexico’s Congressmen say that could threaten the state’s security, jobs and economy.
The possible DHS shutdown is all because a resolution funneling money into DHS is set to expire Friday.
The House has already sent a funding bill to the Senate. Senate Republicans say they should move forward with a bill that would fund DHS but stop Obama’s executive actions. Democrats say they’ll block a bill that doesn’t include Obama’s immigration reforms.
A federal district court judge temporarily stopped Obama’s executive actions – the focus of those? Programs that could mean millions of undocumented immigrants get to stay in the U.S. through temporary work authorization.
The Department of Homeland Security says a shutdown would mean they wouldn’t be able to train new employees. Plus, they say 15 percent of their 30,000 existing employees would be furloughed.
“I’m not willing to tell our border patrol agents and TSA officers with families to feed that they still need to go to work but they aren’t going to get paid,” said Senator Tom Udall.
New Mexico’s two democratic senators took the floor in U.S. Capitol to voice their concerns over a possible shutdown.
“A DHS shutdown would threaten public safety, it would hinder interstate commerce, hurt our economy and jeopardize critical funding for our state, local and tribal government activities,” explained Senator Martin Heinrich. “It would compromise sheriffs and city police departments across the state who use DHS funding to increase personnel and purchase equipment.”
Democratic Representative Ben Lujan says missing the next deadline would not only threaten our national security, it would also harm the many New Mexicans who work for the Department. He says Republicans should end these political games and put our national security first.
We also asked House Republican Rep. Steve Pearce his take.
“It’s a concern. That’s the reason why we passed the funding bill,” Pearce said. “Right now, the Senate Democrats have taken a calculated move and said they’re not going to do anything. I think the American people will speak back about that.”
According to DHS, Congress has several options now. They can let the funding run out, pass another short-term resolution – something the department says will still make it difficult to operate – pass a year-long resolution or a full-year appropriations bill. DHS says they’re hoping for that fourth option.
We also reached out to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, but she failed to get back to us after several attempts.