- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2015

Congress is free to debate President Obama’s executive action providing amnesty against deportation for certain illegal immigrants, but lawmakers should not tie the fight to whether the Department of Homeland Security gets the money it needs to remain vigilant in the face of Islamic terrorism and other threats, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday.

Mr. Johnson said his agency would have to furlough 30,000 workers and freeze pay for workers who still need to report to work, despite claims on Capitol Hill that DHS could function normally when a short-term funding resolution expires Feb. 27.

“Yes, it is that big of a deal,” Mr. Johnson told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The administration is in a standoff with congressional Republicans who want to fund the agency while undoing Mr. Obama’s amnesty.

Senate Democrats filibustered the Homeland Security spending bill last week, leaving the department in danger of a partial shutdown later this month as Republican leaders on both sides of the Capitol search for a Plan B to fund the department.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, admitted publicly last week he is not sure what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to try to end the standoff in the upper chamber.

Democrats have blasted the GOP for using the funding bill to thwart Mr. Obama’s amnesty, saying it undermines U.S. security while the threat of Islamic terrorism is on the rise.

Mr. Johnson said Congress can debate the issue, “but don’t tie that to funding public safety and security for the American people.”

The DHS secretary said he is meeting with lawmakers every day to find a way forward.

On terrorism, he said the U.S. does a “pretty good job” in tracking the travel of suspicious persons who may be plotting with the Islamic State from within America’s borders.

Yet Mr. Johnson acknowledged there is an “unknown factor” when it comes to homegrown threats, and encouraged Americans to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior.

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