Four Reasons Why Freedom Lovers Should Cheer a Restrictionist-Led DHS Shutdown

It's an incompetent and evil agency. Shutting it down will halt the spread of its notorious new stop-and-frisk CARI program.


As I wrote last week, the Department of Homeland Security is almost certainly headed for a partial shutdown. The

ImmigrationRally2 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

funding that was authorized for the agency in December as part of the Cromnibus spending bill runs out at the end of the month. Restrictionist Republicans had thought they could leverage the DHS funding issue to kill President Obama's "executive amnesty" – their misleading term for a three-year reprieve from deportation for some undocumented aliens that does not lead to a path to legalization. But they have hit a Democratic wall. Three times last week, Dems used Senate filibuster rules to prevent even a procedural vote on the funding bill till Republicans stripped their "anti-executive amnesty" amendments from it. But the Republican leadership cannot get the restrictionists to knock it off without triggering a revolt against itself. And with Congress in recess all of next week, it gives Republicans less than eight days to get their act together, which they are in no way, shape or form close to doing.

But regardless of where anyone stands on Obama's use of his executive authority, many DHS functions and programs range from the ridiculous to the downright evil. And the longer they stay suspended, the more freedom-loving people should cheer.

Here are four in ascending order of awfulness.

One: Scaling Back DHS's Disastrous Disaster Preparation Efforts

As the Fiscal Times reported last November, this $$40 billion agency has not lacked for examples of fiscal mismanagement and lax oversight. It had cost overruns of "only" $1.5 billion on its new D.C. headquarters. It handed $8.7 million a year in unearned employee overtime

Worse, the agency's core disaster preparedness and recovery programs are riddled with waste and bloat. Two years ago, a GAO review found that DHS's FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) issues grants worth $20 billion through four programs to help states and municipalities recover quickly from a terrorist incident. But the problem, it said, was that these programs "share similar goals, fund similar projects, and provide funds in the same geographic regions." Further, "DHS's award process for some programs bases decisions on high-level, rather than specific, project information…and FEMA has not determined all of its specific data requirement. As FEMA determines these requirements, it will be important to collect the level of information needed to compare projects across grant programs."

Translation: FEMA doesn't know what the hell it is doing. It randomly throws billions of dollars at local communities without any effort at coordination between its various programs. Furthermore, it can't tell whether these programs are actually doing what they are supposed to – enhancing local security and response—and it has no way of finding out.

If DHS funding remains in suspension long enough, the agency might, just might, be prodded to rationalize its programs, eliminating at least some small amount of duplication and waste.

Two: Suspending "Voluntary" E-Verify

Restrictionist Republicans, who allegedly belong to a party that hates business-thwarting regulations and red tape, want to beef up "interior enforcement" by turning E-verify from a "voluntary" to a mandatory program. This would make it illegal for employers to hire anyone – foreigner or American – without first checking their work eligibility against a federal database that screws up 4 percent of the time.

But, ironically, by shutting down the DHS, restrictionists will temporarily suspend even "voluntary" E-verify—which would be just as well because the program is voluntary only in the sense that Tony Soprano's deal to offer you protection or burn down your house is voluntary given that businesses that don't use it risk federal workplace raids to hunt down undocumented workers.

Three: Harassing Fewer Non-Criminal Undocumented Workers

The DHS maintains 34,000 detention beds to house non-criminal undocumented workers pending their deportation at an annual cost of $2 billion to taxpayers. The conditions in these facilities are often abusive and deplorable. When sequester cuts two years ago slashed the agency's budget, it released several thousand of them to go and await deportation with their families. That's not only more humane but also more cost effective. But, of course, restrictionists were up-in-arms given that many released workers could disappear never to be caught again. However, anyone who believes that the government shouldn't be imprisoning people whose only sin is working for willing employers to produce cheap goods and services for Americans ought to celebrate.

Four: Halting the Spread of the Brutal Criminal Alien Removal Initiative (CARI)

Just as the War on Drugs is inimical to freedom, so is the escalating War on Immigrants. A restrictionist regime, just as a prohibitionist one, is simply incompatible with a free society because, inevitably, the need for ever-more aggressive policing and law enforcement would trump constitutional protections for individuals.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the DHS's new CARI program that has been rolled out in a few test communities. Under it, notes Prerna Lal, an immigration attorney, agents engage in rampant profiling of Latinos at grocery stores, parks, churches and other public places.

Here is how it works in New Orleans, one of the frontier communities for this brutal program that restrictionists aspire to make the national norm: ICE agents go and park themselves outside a Latino neighborhood or building and indiscriminately – without probable cause – start "stopping and frisking" people as they enter or exit. Any individual that poses the slightest resistance, talks back or refuses to answer ICE's questions is handcuffed and held in a police van as their fingerprints are run through a federal database. Sometimes the wait can run into hours. Anyone who turns out to be out-of-status is taken into custody and deportation proceedings launched. Immigrant communities in CARI-active areas live in constant fear of this Gestapo-like effort that ICE agents jokingly call "hunting."

So long as DHS funding remains suspended, Lal notes, the agency won't have money to expand this program. And for that alone, every day the agency stays shut is a boost for liberty – or at least less of a kick in its face!

NEXT: A.M. Links: Liberals Join Tea Partiers to Oppose Obama Trade Deals, California Warn Against 'Measles Parties,' Assad Says U.S. Tells Him About Airstrikes in Syria

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  1. It had cost overruns of “only” $1.5 billion on its new D.C. headquarters.

    With all due respect, HTF does this happen? Seriously, I can hardly imagine the incompetence and/or corruption it took.

    1. Actually, it’s fairly typical for any government construction project since, say, 1990. It isn’t broadly advertised, largely because fixing it would involve admitting that Congress has legislated procurment, contracting, etc to the point where it is literally impossible to NOT SCREW IT UP.

      1. THIS

  2. You would be amazed at how much of that overrun came inn the form of oversight committees, management process consultants, process advisors, compliance planning committees, compliance review committees, compliance oversight committees, and all the other detritus added “to prevent this sort of thing from happening.”
    No one in politics wants to admit that there are transaction costs for everything that is done. Largely this is self-serving, because transactions are ideal flows for adding complexity and costs, and thus revenues to bureaucrats, politicians, ex-politicians, and other forms of parasite. Any and all steps taken to ‘address the issue’ will raise the costs, although at some point those costs wind up being accounted for elsewhere, and so not directly visible.
    No business could be as corrupt as government, let alone for so long and in such an egregiously metastatic manner. ‘It grows like a tumor’ is not merely an aphorism.

    1. You would be amazed at how much of that overrun came inn the form of … detritus added “to prevent this sort of thing from happening.”

      No, I “appreciate” that. But the “planners” should jolly well allow for it in the budget.

      1. Why? Its not like the budget means anything anyway.

  3. In before TRESPASSERS OFF MY LAWN!111

  4. While I agree that CARI is wrong and a government overreach, I think that emphasizing its “brutality” is a stretch unless you include a few examples of people actually getting their asses kicked as a result of it. When you claim a program is brutal or “evil”, but have no explicitly violent incidents to point at, people who may be on the fence about the issue will tend to write the article off as the ramblings of another paranoid libertarian hysteric.

    I’m certainly not saying that Ms. Dalmia is that, because I’ve read her other work, but someone who isn’t familiar with her usual output won’t likely give this article the benefit of the doubt.

    1. You should read the linked report!

  5. Reason #5: It’ll shut down part of the government.

    1. If there’s one thing the parties agree on, it’s that we’re not spending enough.

  6. I’m totally ok with a bunch of useless juiced out DHS laser tag warriors missing their meal ticket.

    BTW for all the merchant mariners, this probably means all license processing and REC will be shut down.

  7. Anyone who thinks Republicans are going to allow the DHS to shut/slow down may also be interested in purchasing several bridges I’ve got for sale.

    1. Maybe. Where are you bridges located? Buying bridges is all about 3 things: location, location, and location.

      But seriously, they shut down the government for a month. Why not DHS?

  8. I, for one, would welcome any DHS shutdown because it might allow the people hated by the government, i.e. those who can afford airfare, to get into the country as easily as those who sneak across the Southwestern border.

    1. What is the point of a shutdown? When the budget gets re-instated, all employees get back pay anyway. 🙁

  9. Wait … Democrats filibustered something? I thought filibusters were wrong and got in the way of thoughtful legislation.

    Now that I got that out of the way. I find it sad the only way our government can cut cost is by bickering long enough they don’t fund a program. It’s chilling that they think fiscal responsibility is something only for private citizens and corporations.

  10. I thought filibusters were wrong and got in the way of thoughtful legislation.

    Moral relativism is a great thing, right?

    It’s chilling that they think fiscal responsibility is something only for private citizens and corporations.

    That’s why government is at best a ‘necessary’ evil…

    1. Relativism or they are all statist douche hats

      Tomato or to’mato

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  14. Republicans are bluffing and will never let the DHS go unfunded; that Department is their baby. The Democrats are calling the bluff.

  15. This piggy backs on another of your stories today. The new Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative would give DHS some regulatory authority over big chunks of Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) – That’s the DNI and DoD in “Initiative #12. Define the Federal role for extending cybersecurity into critical infrastructure domains.” –…..initiative

    ” The Department of Homeland Security and its private-sector partners have developed a plan of shared action with an aggressive series of milestones and activities. … It includes a focus on public-private sharing of information regarding cyber threats and incidents in both government and CIKR.”

    DHS also routinely reanimates contractor bids for Border Security biometric grabs on American travelers going over the border, also CIKR. So there’s loads of great reasons to suspend funding.

  16. If you’re against the government or businesses having to pay for contraception, are you a “restrictionist”? Because that seems to be the logic used by Shikha. None of the illegal aliens living here are entitled to amnesty or an exemption from deportation. Amnesty might be moral thing to do, but a president acting unilaterally for political gains shouldn’t go unchecked. Next time he might order ( legal) executive orders on thing libertarians don’t care for.

    Shikha also insists that a government program with a 96% success rate is somehow a job killing red tape? Huh? The program is free.

    Migrant farm workers complain they work like modern slaves on American farms. Sure enough, the loudest voice against E-verify is coming from the farm industry and “small business”, which is often synonymous for “major A-holes” who break all kinds of laws to save money.

    Celebrating illegal alien labor as some “free market arrangement” is the most incredibly tone deaf thing I ever heard in my life. The transaction might be voluntary, but one party holds all the cards. That often leads to exploitation.

  17. How is reprieve from deportation not de-facto amnesty?

  18. While those things may be great news for illegal aliens, legal immigrants, that is, people who actually have to comply with laws and are trying to, are likely completely screwed by the chaos. And that’s really the way US immigration works: make life hard for legal immigrants, and make things really easy for some illegals, while wrecken the lives of other illegals.

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  21. Shut it down, I don’t need them reading my e-mail, confiscating my toothpaste at the airport.
    Eliminate the entire department and give it back the previously existing FBI and CIA. Creating it was nothing but an excuse to grow government.

  22. Uh, the War on Drugs is no way comparable to the “War on Immigrants”

    Immigrants are a detriment in a society that spends billions on anyone poor.

    No one should be coming to America unless they have skills and/or education, and speak the language enough to communicate.

    1. Exactly! I generally love her articles, but unfortunately she’s of the misguided open-borders mindset shared by the majority of self-identified libertarians. These folks refuse to recognize that America’s greatest is and has always been contingent on sovereignty. It’s disturbing how they recognize libertarian stalwart Milton Friedman’s contributions on everything other than this issue: Open borders are incompatible with the modern welfare state.

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