President Barack Obama is expected to meet with young illegal immigrants protected from deportation because of his executive actions Wednesday at the White House as GOP leaders across the nation battle to undo his immigration reforms. The meeting is to include immigrants from Texas, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, New York and Virginia, and is part of Obama's ongoing campaign to sell his most recent immigration measure that could shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation, the Washington Times reported.
Obama signed an executive order in 2012 that extended legal rights to young illegal immigrants who moved to the United States as children. He announced in November similar protections for parents of children who are citizens or legal residents. GOP lawmakers have sued Obama over the policies, which were not approved by Congress. At the same time, U.S. lawmakers are mounting a campaign to defund the immigration measures.
The Senate took up the immigration battle Tuesday as Democrats blocked a bill that would have earmarked nearly $40 billion for the Department of Homeland Security's annual budget without funding Obama’s immigration actions. More than 600,000 young immigrants were protected from deportation and granted work permits under the 2012 White House measure. “The notion that we would risk the effectiveness of the department that is charged with preventing terrorism, controlling our borders, making sure that the American people are safe, makes absolutely no sense,” Obama said of the Senate vote.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson met with Obama Tuesday and urged senators to pass a funding bill that wouldn't block the immigration policies. "These are challenging times right now, both in terms of our counter terrorism priorities, border security, aviation security, cybersecurity, maritime security, port security and all of the other vital homeland security missions," he said.
House Republicans passed a similar DHS funding bill last month. “It’s time for Senator [Ted] Cruz and Senator [Jeff] Sessions and Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats to stand with the American people and to block the president’s action,” House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday referring to GOP lawmakers in the Senate.
Lawmakers have until the end of the month to pass DHS funding.