U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas temporarily blocked implementation of Obama's order to grant legal status to about 4 million undocumented immigrants and allow them to work legally in the United States for up to three years. Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the president's actions. The administration is appealing the decision, which came just two days before DHS was set to begin accepting applications from immigrants wanting to take part in Obama's programs.
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"Now we've got a perfect reason to not shut (DHS) down because the courts have decided, at least initially, in our favor," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said last week on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
The secretary of Homeland Security went on five Sunday shows to warn that national security will be at risk unless Congress agrees to fund the department.
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"I'm hoping someone will exercise some leadership," Secretary Jeh Johnson said on CNN's State of the Union.
If the administration and congressional Republicans can't agree by a Friday deadline, Johnson said he will have to furlough about 30,000 employees — mostly office workers — while other front-line agents will have to work without paychecks.
Citing new terrorist threats against U.S. facilities, including shopping malls, Johnson said: "It's absurd that we're even having this conversation."
But even if funding expires, more than 80% of the department's 240,000-plus employees will still go to work because their jobs are deemed essential to the nation's safety. Those workers, however, will not get paid as they patrol the borders, check luggage for weapons at airports, respond to natural disasters or guard the president.
The huge department includes Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.
"If Congress forces a shutdown of the department, front-line personnel will be asked to continue to work without pay," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "That includes 40,000 Customs and Border Protection officers needed to keep our borders secure."