3092274By Jeremy Love, Immigration Attorney
February 16, 2015

We’re getting closer and closer to May, when US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for Deferred Action for Parents, part of the Executive Action announced by President Barack Obama in November.
Politicians have generated a lot of headlines over the struggle on Capitol Hill regarding the Executive Action.  So, I wanted to address concerns regarding the new Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Republicans in the House of Representatives have attacked the funding and implementation of the programs, but it is not likely that Congress can stop Obama’s executive action.

Can Congress stop the funding for DAPA or DACA?

The issue with Congress trying to stop funding for the programs is that USCIS is funded by application fees.  So, it is the applicants themselves who pay to keep the programs running.

The House bill, which was passed in January, would prevent USCIS from using those application fees, but House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R- KY) has ruled that Congress could not use such a bill to defund USCIS.

Will the House Bill pass the Senate?

The House Bill has already failed once in the Senate and it is unlikely to pass in the future.  Additionally, if it does pass, Obama has said that he would veto the bill.  Republicans in the Senate do not have the 2/3 majority needed to overturn a presidential veto on this issue.

Could Republicans shut down the Department of Homeland Security?

Republicans in Congress have threatened to shut down DHS over this issue.  Current funding for DHS expires on February 27, and USCIS is part of DHS.

However, even if Republicans manage to shut down DHS, USCIS funding comes from applicant fees, so DACA and DAPA applications could still be processed.  The process may be slower with a shutdown, but the important thing to remember, is that USCIS could still accept and grant Deferred Action under the executive action.

It is important to stay tuned to news relating to immigration, but remember that a lot of what happened in Congress is purely political speech.  Despite the actions of politicians, DAPA is set to start in May and now is the time to prepare.