Sequestration’s effect on immigration

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The sequestration cuts will affect nearly every facet of daily life from education to military and agriculture.

When President Barack Obama’s team came out with the sequestration cuts in summer 2011, the intention was not for the cuts to go into place. 

A week before mandatory budget cuts go into effect across the government, the Department of Homeland Security started releasing illegal immigrants being held in immigration jails across the country. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jeremy Redmon)
A week before mandatory budget cuts go into effect across the government, the Department of Homeland Security started releasing illegal immigrants being held in immigration jails across the country. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jeremy Redmon)

As stated in Bob Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics,” he summarized that the point of the cuts was to encourage bipartisanship in congress.

The intention was to force Republicans to negotiate, not to actually put the cuts into effect. “There would be no chance the Republicans would want to pull the trigger and allow the sequester to force massive cuts to Defense.” – Bob Woodward

Right now, blame is being thrown around the board, with Republicans blaming President Obama for allowing the cuts to go into place and President Obama blaming Republicans. Of the many departments with funding being cut, immigration and border patrol are taking a significant hit.

In response to the cuts, the Department of Homeland Security released hundreds of illegal immigrants detained within the U.S. a week before the cuts would go into effect. Janet Napolitano, DHS secretary, said the cuts would make it harder to keep a tight border security and detain illegal immigrants.

“I don’t think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester as (we do) without sequester,” Napolitano said.

The DHS is required by congress to have enough money to maintain 34,000 beds in jail for undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

President Obama utilized immigration reform as a major part of his 2012 campaign and reemphasized this commitment in his State of the Union address. But the new sequestration cuts make it more difficult for reform to happen. Michael Catalini wrote in a National Journal article that the sequestration is backfiring on the president.

It’s not only the president’s agenda that could be at risk–the full-time attention to the fiscal fight is sucking valuable attention on more-pressing progressive priorities.

In addition to the lack of funding for maintaining jails for immigrants to be deported, the cuts can also affect the safety of our border. Drug smugglers may try harder to test the soft points of our borders. David Martin, former principal deputy general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, said ports of entry such as airports will feel effects almost immediately and that long lines and wait times at airports are to be expected. This can hurt the travel industry and also international business.

Many are frustrated about this issue because, whether or not sequestration cuts will go through, it may distract Congress from helping in the issue of undocumented immigrants finding their way to citizenship.

Geraldo Rivera of Fox News said, “What will really tick me off is if the two sides use this petty incident to delay meaningful action on comprehensive immigration reform.”

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