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DHS Employees Prepare For Possible Shut Down

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A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)

PHOENIX - The president’s plan to use executive action to help an additional 4 million or so unauthorized immigrants get work permits has its share of opponents.

Among its critics is the union representing some 18,000 Border Patrol agents, the National Border Patrol Council.

Agent Chris Cabrera is with the union in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, which is the busiest part of the border.

“We are out here risking our lives every day,” Cabrera said. “And for someone to come in and throw a de facto amnesty on the table, it just goes against our basic mission as an agency.”

But a fight in Congress over the president’s immigration executive actions is now impacting Cabrera and his colleagues’ wallets.

The Department of Homeland Security, which includes Border Patrol, will run out of funding on Friday.

House Republicans’ funding measure for DHS adds on a provision to end the president’s immigration programs. But Democrats won’t agree to that.

If the two sides can’t find common ground before Friday at midnight, DHS will partially shut down. Some staff will be furloughed and essential staff like Border Patrol agents will have their paychecks delayed.

“We are caught in the middle of this game of political football,” Cabrera said.

“For them to hold our pay hostage I think is the wrong move. If [members of Congress] were to hold their own pay hostage, I think that would light a fire under them to get it done and get it done right.”