Tag Archives: dreamers

Immigrants’ rights must be protected from further attack

Earthjustice, Sierra Club, NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife are calling for an end to the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants. Earthjustice also is supporting the Bridge Act, which would extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for three years.

The statement from Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen:

Earthjustice holds as a foundational principle that every human being has a fundamental right to a clean and healthy environment.

Inherent in that right is the ability to participate in democratic decision-making affecting one’s health and access to a fair and impartial judiciary to ensure that the laws and rules meant to protect public health and the environment are enforced with fairness and equality.

Unfortunately, millions of individuals are denied this ability to protect their own health and that of their children because to do so would risk retaliation, incarceration, deportation and separation from their families.

The short-sighted measures taken yesterday by the Trump administration will bring dire consequences and compromise the future of mixed-status households with U.S. citizens who depend on their undocumented family members and share the fears, apprehensions, and exclusions with their loved ones.

In 2014, we applauded the Obama administration for taking steps to eliminate the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants who have become an intrinsic part of our communities and the nation as a whole. Their contributions to this country exemplify the best in our values. We stand firmly by the belief that without the fear of intimidation or removal, immigrant communities will be better positioned to stand up for their fundamental rights, including a right to a safe and healthy environment for their families. To shut down their voices by planting fear with ill-conceived walls, counterproductive enforcement procedures, and by trying to defund sanctuary cities undermines basic rights and is inherently un-American.

Rather than try to tear families and communities apart, the administration and Congress should step up to its responsibility to provide relief. This is why we are joining in solidarity with our partners in the Latino and civil rights community in urging Congress to pass the “BRIDGE Act;” a bill that would provide Dreamers with a temporary reprieve from deportation on terms similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This bill would protect many of the millions of aspiring Americans whose ability to secure justice and thrive is hampered by their immigration status. Immigrants play a fundamental role in our country, they live, work, and pray among us yet they are forced to remain in the shadows.  Silence and inaction are breeding grounds for injustice, and Earthjustice will not stand by while this reality continues.

Fearing Trump crackdown, dreamers advised to end travel

Immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but were protected from deportation by President Barrack Obama, are being warned by some advocates to make sure they are not traveling abroad when Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

Some advocates, lawyers and universities are concerned that Trump might immediately rescind an Obama program that had allowed these young immigrants to work and travel for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes.

That could lead, they fear, to some people traveling abroad being barred from re-entering the U.S.

“We are recommending all travel be completed by or before Jan. 20 in the event laws or procedures experience a drastic change,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “We wouldn’t want to expose them to an uncertain situation should they not be allowed back to the U.S.”

Trump made immigration the cornerstone of his campaign, promising to build a wall along the Mexican border and deport millions of people living in the country illegally.

His actual plans, though, have yet to be revealed. Recently, he has said he wants to focus on people who have committed crimes.

During a recent Time magazine interview, Trump expressed sympathy for the 741,000 people in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which started in 2012.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Advocates are still being cautious.

Nancy Lopez-Ramirez, a 20-year-old student born in Mexico who is planning a trip there as part of a City College of New York class, said she is glad the group is returning by Jan. 15.

“My mom is like ‘I am concerned with you not coming back, I want you to be able to come back,’” she said.

“It is nerve-wracking but I think that at the end it is going to be worth it,” said the political-science student, who was brought to the U.S. when she was 4.

City College, part of the City University of New York, is one of the institutions advising students in the DACA program to return before Inauguration Day. So is California State University, which told administrators to tell participants in the program “that if they are outside of the United States as of January 20, 2017, there is no assurance they will be allowed to return to the U.S.”

Trump can rescind the promised protection right away through an “operational memo” because Obama implemented it through one, said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

He said the program’s participants should not consider traveling overseas unless they absolutely need to.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Anthony Bucci said his agency “cannot speculate” when he was asked how long would it take for CBP officers to deny entry to the U.S. to program participants if Trump eliminated the protection.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records said that as of Dec. 31, 2015, about 22,340 people in the DACA program were approved for the “parole” that allows them to travel outside the U.S.

Trump called the program an “illegal amnesty” during his campaign.

Tatyana Kleyn, an associate professor at City College who organized the upcoming Mexico trip, said interest in it actually surged among students after the presidential election.

“So right now our bus fits 18 and we are bringing 20,” she said. “It feels like a last chance.”

Latino vote director Lorella Praeli: Dreams can come true

Good evening, my name is Lorella Praeli, and I am an American. As you saw in the video, I recently became a U.S. Citizen, but for 14 years I was undocumented. At the age of 2, I was hit by a car and lost my leg. When I think about our American story, I believe it was born in the hearts of my parents that night as they stood over my hospital bed.

Because my parents were determined that I would reach my full potential and not be limited by my disability. And eventually, the only place that could contain such a vision was here in America. Because this is a country that was made for people with the courage to believe in their dreams.

Back in Peru, my mother, Chela, was a psychologist. But here in America, she’s worked cleaning houses for the last 17 years, from morning to night, carrying the American spirit in her heart. She, like so many millions of parents across this country, worked so that my sister and I could have a full life. She has taught me to never give up, to believe in my dreams, and to fight to achieve them. In short, it was my undocumented mother that taught me what it is to be an American.

That’s why I’m fighting for Hillary Clinton. Because she never gives up. Because she believes in our dreams, and because she will fight to achieve them.

Entonces, amigos, nuestra voz está en nuestro voto. Así que, si queremos hacer historia este noviembre, si queremos que nos oigan, tomen sus teléfonos ahora mismo y texteen DREAM, D – R – E – A – M al 47246. Y asegúrense de que nadie se quede en casa el diá de la elección.

So let’s go out. Knock on doors, talk to our friends and family, register new voters, make sure that no one stays home! And together, make history this November.

Juntos se puede. Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.

Supreme Court deadlocks on immigration case

Karla Cano faces uncertainty. She had expected to qualify for deferred action under the Obama administration’s executive orders on immigration. But a tied decision by the U.S. Supreme Court creates uncertainty for Cano and her family.

“All that is unjust about my situation will continue,” said Cano, 21, a senior at Mount Mary University and the mother of a 2-year-old son.

“I am in college so I can have a career helping others, but I cannot start a career like that without work authorization,” she said. “We just want to help this country and support our families like anyone else.”

The court on June 23 deadlocked on President Barack Obama’s executive actions taken to shield millions living in the United States from deportation.

The 4–4 tie means the next president and a new Congress will determine any change in U.S. immigration policy. The president said the court’s deadlock “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.”

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, called the court ruling unacceptable and pledged to “do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families.”

The dispute before the eight justices — the case was heard in April, after the death of Antonin Scalia — was over the legality of the administration’s orders creating “deferred action for parents of Americans and lawful permanent residents” or DAPA and expanding “deferred action for childhood arrivals” or DACA.

Basically the actions would have provided protection from deportation and three-year work permits to about 5 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as undocumented people who came to the United States before the age of 16.

The president announced the orders in 2014 and, soon after, they were challenged by 26 states led by Republican governors, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Federal district and appeals courts sided with the states and said the executive office lacked the authority to issue orders shielding immigrants from deportation.

The high court tie means the appeals court ruling stands. But the ruling in United States v. Texas did not set any landmark standards in the dispute over immigration.

The U.S. Justice Department brought the case to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the appeals court decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union was among the many groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, the “4–4 tie has a profound impact on millions of American families whose lives will remain in limbo and who will now continue the fight. In setting the DAPA guidelines, President Obama exercised the same prosecutorial discretion his predecessors have wielded without controversy and ultimately the courts should hold that the action was lawful.”

Reaction from the U.S. progressive community was swift and compassionate.

“This split decision deals a severe blow to millions of immigrant families who have already been waiting more than 18 months for the DAPA and DACA programs to be implemented,” said Alianza Americas’ executive director Oscar Chacón. “The cold fact is that millions of parents and children will go to bed tonight knowing once again that their families could be torn apart at any moment.”

At the Center for Popular Democracy, co-executive director Ana Maria Archila said, “If the highest court in the land cannot find a majority for justice and compassion, there is something truly broken in our system of laws, checks and balances.”

In Wisconsin, Voces de la Frontera held news conferences in Green Bay, Madison and in Milwaukee. LULAC, Centro Hispano and the Southside Organizing Committee also were involved.

“This is very sad for me,” said Jose Flores, a factory worker, father of four and also the president of Voces de la Frontera. “I have been waiting and fighting for reform like DAPA for years. But we are not giving up. I refuse … to shrink back into the shadows.”

Cano, a member of Voces de la Frontera, said, “I am not giving up on the struggle. We need more people to get involved in the upcoming elections, because this decision shows the importance of both the presidential and U.S. congressional elections and whom the next president will nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Trump: Deport native-born children of immigrants illegally living in U.S.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants more than a wall to keep out immigrants living in the country illegally. He also wants to end “birthright citizenship” for their children, he said on Aug. 16.

And he would rescind Obama administration executive orders on immigration and toughen deportation, allowing in only “the good ones.”

Trump described his expanded vision of how to secure American borders during a wide-ranging interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” saying that he would push to end the constitutionally protected citizenship rights of children of any family living illegally inside the United States.

“They have to go,” Trump said, adding: “What they’re doing, they’re having a baby. And then all of a sudden, nobody knows…the baby’s here.”

Native-born children of immigrants — even those living illegally in the U.S. — have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1868.

The odds of repealing the amendment’s citizenship clause would be steep, requiring the votes of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and support from three-fourths of the nation’s state legislatures. Republicans in Congress have pushed without success to repeal that provision since 2011.

“They’re illegal,” Trump said, describing native-born children of people living illegally in the United States. “You either have a country or not.”

Trump’s remarks came as his campaign website posted his program for “immigration reform.” Among its details: Making Mexico pay for a permanent border wall. Mandatory deportation of all “criminal aliens.” Tripling the force of immigration officers by eliminating tax credit payments to immigrant families residing illegally in the U.S.

He said that families with U.S.-born children could return quickly if deemed worthy by the government. “We’re going to try and bring them back rapidly, the good ones,” he said, adding: “We will expedite it so people can come back in. The good people can come back.”

Trump did not elaborate on how he would define “good people.” But echoing earlier controversial remarks that Mexico was sending criminals across the border, Trump said a tough deportation policy was needed because “there’s definitely evidence” of crimes linked to immigrants living in the country illegally.

The New York businessman also said he would waste little time rescinding President Barack Obama’s executive actions aimed at allowing as many as 3.7 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. to remain in the country because of their U.S.-born relatives. Obama’s November 2014 actions were halted by temporary injunctions ordered by several federal courts in rulings challenging his executive powers to alter immigration policies without Congressional approval. The cases could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We have to make a whole new set of standards,” Trump said. “And when people come in, they have to come in legally.”

On Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich echoed Trump’s call to finish construction of an incomplete system of barriers on the nation’s southern border with Mexico. There are still gaps in the barriers, which have been under construction since 2005.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Kasich said he would “finish the wall” but would then work to legalize 12 million immigrants now estimated to live in the U.S. illegally. Kasich said he would “make sure we don’t have anybody — any of the criminal element here.” He would also revive the guest-worker programs that previously brought in temporary workers to aid in farming and other industries hobbled by labor shortages.

Most other GOP candidates also back completing the border wall but differ over how to treat immigrant families already living in the U.S. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently released his own immigration plan calling for the use of forward bases and drones to guard the border, but also backing an eventual plan to legalize the status of immigrant families. Bush disagrees with Obama’s use of executive actions to unilaterally enforce the policy.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio worked with senators from both parties to develop a comprehensive plan in 2013 that would have legalized the status of many immigrant families. But Congress balked at the idea as tea party Republicans opposed the deal and Rubio has since backed away from his support.

Madison joins in amicus brief backing Obama’s executive actions on immigration

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin this week announced that the city joined 73 cities and counties in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals urging immediate implementation of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The brief, coordinated through the Cities United for Immigration Action coalition, demonstrates robust support from the country’s largest cities — as well as its suburbs and rural areas — for the president’s reforms. Signers said the reforms will provide temporary relief from deportation to immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States who pass a background check and meet other criteria.

The cities and counties — representing 43 million people across the country — argue that the district court judge who temporarily blocked implementation of the programs failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by this delay.

“I proudly stand with my fellow mayors throughout the country in support of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that promote family stability, economic growth and community cohesiveness,” Soglin said in a news release. “Every president since President Eisenhower has used executive authority to provide temporary immigration relief and in fact, there have been 37 instances of presidents using executive authority since 1956. That action has come under both Republican and Democratic administrations so this is not, and should not be, a partisan issue. This is a human rights issue.” 

As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, more than 70 cities and counties, the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors argue that the national public interest is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration relief by executive action without delay.

The brief also argues that the judge’s decision to block executive action with a preliminary injunction is bad for the economy, hurts families, threatens law enforcement priorities and will stall needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies. 

The brief argues that executive action will benefit cities and counties by providing work authorization to millions, increasing local tax revenue, stimulating local economies, facilitating the civic engagement of immigrants, keeping families together and improving public safety by strengthening our neighborhoods and communities.

In addition, the brief argues that delay in implementation of the president’s executive action has significant costs for local economies and immigrant families. The delay in implementation has forced mixed-status families — a number which is estimated to be in the millions — to continue to live in ongoing fear of deportation and separation, a situation that has profound emotional, educational and health impacts on children. 

Denver schools take lead in hiring DREAMer teachers

Like many sojourners to this country, Alejandro Fuentes Mena lives with uncertainty as U.S. immigration policy is debated in the courts, Congress and the White House. But as he awaits a final ruling on his own future, he’s helping other young people build their dreams.

Fuentes, who settled in the United States illegally as a child, is a Denver elementary school teacher under a pilot program that recruits young immigrants like him to teach disadvantaged students. Teach for America, a national nonprofit running the program, believes people like Fuentes can be role models for students.

Fuentes, 23, has applied for a work permit and reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a presidential order. Recipients of deferred action, like Fuentes, are also known as DREAMers.

Fuentes wasn’t directly affected by a judicial order this year that stopped the White House from expanding the number of immigrants who could remain in the country temporarily. But it left him worried. “If they overturn this part of immigration reform, will they go back and overturn other parts?” he said.

In the meantime, the Teach for America program he’s involved in has grown from two teachers in Denver, where it was launched last year, to 40 teachers in classrooms across the country, including Arizona, California and New Mexico. Denver’s 11 instructors with DACA status comprise the largest group. Teach for America plans to create more opportunities for immigrants like Fuentes.

The organization has been recruiting and training teachers since 1989 with the goal of helping disadvantaged students by encouraging bright college graduates to teach them.

Sean VanBerschot, Teach for America’s executive director in Colorado, said the Denver Public Schools district was the right place for DREAMer teachers because of its commitment to closing an achievement gap between white students and students of other races. More than 87,000 students, nearly two-thirds of them Hispanic and a third of them English-language learners, are enrolled in Denver public schools.

“Some of our greatest demand is for strong bilingual teachers,” said Shayne Spalten, chief human resources officer for Denver Public Schools. “In the past, we have had to do extensive recruitment internationally and nationally to try and meet this demand. These (DREAMer) teachers bring an extraordinary commitment to teaching and life experiences that are similar to the experiences of many of our students.”

Critics question whether Teach for America’s five-week training course leaves candidates unprepared for the classroom and discouraged from making teaching a career. Candidates commit to two years’ teaching.

Keri Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association teachers’ union, said one thing Teach for America does “exceptionally well is recruit quality candidates. But if those high quality candidates don’t stay in the classroom beyond two years, then we really haven’t solved the problem.”

Denver’s initiative has inspired other districts to look at DREAMers. In Colorado’s Eagle County, home to Vail, Superintendent Jason Glass is considering hiring teachers with DACA status. Half the district’s 6,800 public school students are Hispanic, and 40 percent are learning English.

“Denver definitely put the idea in our heads,” Glass said.

Fuentes was a toddler in Valparaiso, Chile, when his mother set off for the United States. He was 4 when he joined her in San Diego, and he grew up in the U.S. without legal status. At times, the family was homeless as his mother and stepfather worked for low wages building homes, packing fruit and caring for children and the elderly.

Fuentes remembers feeling hopeless in his last year of high school in California. He had an A-minus average, but his immigration status put many college scholarships out of reach. A teacher encouraged him to persevere. He secured a full scholarship and, as he prepared to graduate with a psychology degree from Whitman College, the first DACA order was announced.

Fuentes began teaching English in a low-income Denver neighborhood and saw a need for what he could offer.

When he first shared his life story with his fifth-graders, one put in extra effort on a writing assignment, saying, “`I decided that I was going to push myself further,'” Fuentes said.

At conservative meeting, Google exec urges Congress to increase skilled work visas

The executive chairman at Google this week called on Congress to increase the number of high-skilled work visas made available to foreigners but to deal with other immigration issues later on.

Eric Schmidt spoke on March 18 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Schmidt said he believes the United States is better off having more immigrants, not fewer, but he particularly is focused on allowing more immigrants into the U.S. with specialized technical skills.

“In the long list of stupid policies of the U.S. government, I think our attitude toward immigration has got to be near the top,” Schmidt said in answering a question about the biggest policy change he would like to see the federal government make.

“We take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us,” Schmidt said. “Brilliant strategy.”

Schmidt said that increasing the number of H-1B visas, a program that’s separate from the student visa program, would grow the economy because many immigrants will go on to start their own businesses and hire workers. He also said he believes a majority of lawmakers from both parties agree on this point, which is why they should deal with other aspects of immigration reform separately.

A bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah would expand the current annual cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to between 115,000 and 195,000 visas depending upon market condition and demand. But a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday reinforced that some top lawmakers are strongly opposed to expanding the program. They argued that the U.S. has plenty of high-skilled workers, but companies would rather look elsewhere because it’s cheaper.

“Over the years the program has become a government-assisted way for employers to bring in cheaper foreign labor, and now it appears these foreign workers take over, rather than complement, the U.S. workforce,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said American schools are graduating twice as many students specializing in science, technology, engineering and math than there are jobs to fill in those specialties.

“It has nothing to do with trying to find the best and brightest,” Sessions said of the H-1B visa program’s proposed expansion.

The American Enterprise Institute says it is focus is on “expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise.”

Right Wing Watch, a program supported by the People for the American Way, says AEI is is “one of the oldest and most influential of the pro-business right-wing think tanks. It promotes the advancement of free enterprise capitalism and has been extremely successful in placing its people in influential governmental positions, particularly in the Bush Administration. AEI has been described as one of the country’s main bastions of neoconservatism.”

Right Wing Watch said AEI’s “areas of interest include: America’s ‘culture war,’ domestic policy and federal spending, education reform, neoconservatism, affirmative action and welfare reform.”

Immigrants disappointed but not deterred by judge’s order

Immigrants expressed disappointment on Feb. 17, after a federal judge put a hold on President Barack Obama’s plan to protect more than 4 million people living illegally in the U.S. from deportation. But many said they haven’t lost hope.

A look at immigrant views of Obama’s programs:

Growing up in Guatemala, Keyla Betancurth used to watch her single mother cry at night because she could not afford to buy food for her children. Betancourt left school at 12 to work at a bakery to help. Then, at 17, she took a bigger step, paying a smuggler to get her to the U.S.

“I wanted a better future for myself and for my mom,” said the 28-year-old, who wants to apply for Obama’s program for the parents of Americans. “Now, I’m a mother, and I want the best for my kids. I don’t want my kids to suffer like I did.”

Betancurth, who has three young children, has been a farmworker in California and Iowa and, since moving to Denver three years ago, a maid. Her husband, who is from Honduras, paints houses.

For both, steady, well-paid work is difficult to find because they lack Social Security numbers. She wants to return to school to study hairdressing and, one day, open her own salon.

“My big dream is to study,” she said.


Claudia Ramon, 46, said she and her daughters did not give each other presents this past Christmas because they were saving their money to pay the application fees for Obama’s immigration program.

With the delay, the family now plans on exchanging small gifts today (Feb. 18).

“We feel powerless but not defeated, sure that it will all work out,” said Ramon, who cleans homes for a living in Houston but was a psychologist in her native Colombia.

She said she lives in fear, afraid a simple traffic ticket will take her away from her family.

She recalled an accident five years ago when a police officer asked her for her driver’s license. She told the officer that she didn’t have it and that she had been on her way to take her daughter Isabella, who has Down syndrome, to physical therapy. The officer let her go with a warning.

“I know there are good people. I know there are people who understand the human reasons why we are here,” she said.


Ericka Alvarez, 35, was planning on applying this week for Obama’s program for those brought to the country illegally as children.

She and her husband want to buy a mobile home in Santa Clarita, California, where they can live with their two children. They have saved the $10,000 deposit and qualify for a loan, but the park owner won’t let them in because they don’t have Social Security numbers, she said.

Alvarez also worries about boarding a plane to a training session for her job as a nutritional-supplement saleswoman, because she carries only her Mexican passport. She had hoped Obama’s program would change that before her next trip.

“I’m thinking about whether I should go or not,” she said.


Jessica Nuñez, 40, and her husband have been in the United States for 18 years and have three U.S.-born children.

Originally from Santana, in the Mexican state of Sonora, Nuñez lives in Tucson, Arizona, and has been gathering the paperwork to apply to the new program this year.

Nuñez said life without legal status has been tough, especially when family emergencies arise in Mexico and she can’t go back.

“It’s like they have our hands tied,” she said.


Sabine Durden, 57, welcomed the judge’s ruling putting a halt to Obama’s immigration programs.

Durden came to the United States from Germany more than two decades ago legally as the wife of an American citizen. For many years, the Moreno Valley, California resident questioned the U.S. government’s policies on immigration, but after her 30-year-old son was struck and killed by a driver who was in the country illegally and who had a prior criminal record, she became an activist.

“It didn’t have to happen,” she said.

While she voted for Obama, Durden said she was disappointed by his recent programs on immigration.

“I am happy that finally somebody put a foot down and said we can’t just do whatever we want, not even the president,” she said.

House votes to undo Obama immigration policies

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted on Jan. 14 to overturn President Barack Obama’s key immigration policies, approving legislation that would eliminate new deportation protections for millions and expose hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants to expulsion.

The 236-191 vote came on a broad bill that would provide nearly $40 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year.

Democrats accused Republicans of playing politics with national security at a time of heightened threats, and Obama has threatened to veto the legislation. Prospects of it passing the Senate look tough, too.

But House Republicans, in a determined assault on one of Obama’s top domestic priorities, accused him of reckless unconstitutional actions on immigration that must be stopped.

“This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”

But U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., accused Republicans of “viciousness” for trying to make it easier to deport immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., called the GOP effort “a political vendetta,” adding, “It’s a reprehensible, reckless tactic which will compromise, has already compromised, the full and effective functioning of our Homeland Security Department” at a time of heightened security risks.

The immigration measures were amendments on the Homeland Security bill.

One of them, approved 237-190, would undo executive actions that Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief to some 4 million immigrants illegally in the country. A second amendment would delete Obama’s 2012 policy that’s granted work permits and stays of deportation to more than 600,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. That measure passed more narrowly, 218-209, as more than two dozen comparatively moderate Republicans joined Democrats in opposition.

The changes Obama announced in November especially enraged the GOP because they came not long after Republicans swept the midterm elections, taking control of the Senate and increasing their majority in the House. Republicans pledged then to revisit the issue once Congress was fully under their control.

But even with Republicans in control of the Senate, the bill faces difficulty there, especially because House GOP leaders decided to satisfy demands from conservative members by including a vote to undo the 2012 policy that deals with younger immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Republicans are six votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation in the Senate, and even some Republicans in that chamber have expressed unease with the House GOP approach, especially given the importance of funding the Homeland Security Department in light of the Paris terrorist attacks.

Some House Republicans acknowledged that the Senate was likely to reject their approach, perhaps forcing them in the end to pass a Homeland Security funding bill stripped of controversial provisions on immigration.

“They’re not going to pass this bill,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Homeland Security money expires at the end of February so House leaders have left themselves several weeks to come up with an ultimate solution.

Immigrant advocates warned Republicans that Wednesday’s votes risked alienating Latino voters who will be crucial to the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, “The Republicans continue to include senseless bed mandates and harmful family detention funding in their funding bills; it’s time they get a reality check on the security needs of this country.

“For nearly two years, this country waited for Congressional Republicans to join their Senate colleagues in addressing our broken immigration system. As if their refusal to act wasn’t bad enough, their current tactics make clear that they’d rather enflame our immigration problems than ever see them solved. But undermining the public’s security is a length to which no politician should be willing to go for the sake of a political victory. It’s an abdication of their duties as elected leaders, and a violation of the oath of office they took just days ago.”

Before the votes, Voces de la Frontera, a Wisconsin-based immigrant rights group, urged supporters to call their congressional representatives and tell them, in part, “These amendments are cruel and xenophobic. We need our Congress to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform, not criminalize and separate working class families.”

From Wisconsin, Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore voted against the amendments. The Republican members from the state voted to undo the administration’s immigration reforms.