- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2014

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pleaded Thursday for Congress to pass full-year funding for his department, saying that if it becomes ensnared in a prolonged debate next year it will hurt his ability to pay for more border security or to cover the bills he ran up during last summer’s illegal immigrant surge.

Under the terms of the current spending deal, most of the government is funded through Sept. 30, but Homeland Security operations are only funded through Feb. 27, giving Republicans in the next Congress a chance to come back and try to undo President Obama’s new temporary amnesty program.

Mr. Johnson, speaking to the Professional Services Council, meeting in Arlington, defended the president’s policy but portrayed the money fight as one over border security.

“I can’t pay for last summer’s surge of resources to deal with the spike migration in south Texas last summer,” Mr. Johnson said. “That bill needs to be paid and we need to pay for sustaining those resources going forward.”

Mr. Obama requested several billion dollars last summer to house and care for the illegal immigrant children surging across the border, including money for their education and lawyers to help with their cases.

The House GOP passed a scaled-down version that only funded enforcement operations, including reimbursing states that deployed their National Guard to the border to stem the flow. But the Senate was unable to pass anything, and the matter died.

SEE ALSO: Homeland Security spends millions on overtime

Mr. Johnson said Thursday that the surge of children peaked June 10 and subsided, and the monthly numbers are now the lowest they’ve been in two years — though that still means several thousand unaccompanied children a month are being apprehended, as well as thousands of families traveling together.

The secretary said there could be a new spike next year, if seasonal patterns hold true, and he said he needs the money to keep the additional resources he’s arranged on the border.

The Obama administration is defending its new amnesty not only in Congress but in the courts, where challenges have been filed by Texas in that state, and in Washington, D.C., where Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, has filed his lawsuit.

The first hearing will come Monday in the Arpaio lawsuit.

But on Wednesday Sheriff Arpaio said he’d disbanded his criminal employment unit and will stop enforcing Arizona’s identity theft laws against illegal immigrants.

“MCSO no longer enforces [the statutes] and disbanded the criminal employment unit, the squad charged with investigating cases,” Sheriff Arpaio’s lawyer said in a court filing late Wednesday.

Puente Arizona, one of the groups that sued to stop the sheriff, said it was a victory. But the plaintiffs also said they will pursue their case in order to try to strike down the ID theft law as unconstitutional.

“This could not have been possible if not for the courage of undocumented workers who came forward to challenge the workplace raids. The community targeted by Arpaio’s war of attrition is turning the tables on the sheriff,” said Carlos Garcia, an official with Puente Arizona.

Sheriff Arpaio told the federal court that since he’s no longer enforcing the ID theft laws, the plaintiffs have no standing to sue.

Meanwhile, in his own case against the president’s new amnesty, it’s the Obama administration who argues Sheriff Arpaio has no standing to sue. The sheriff says he will have to spend more money enforcing laws because more illegal immigrants will come into the U.S. in response to the president’s policy, but the administration says that’s speculative and the sheriff can’t prove an actual harm.

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