WASHINGTON -- The White House issued a veto threat on Thursday for a bill from House Republicans to block the president's executive actions on immigration, which could shield up to 5 million people from deportation. House Republicans are set to vote on the legislation later Thursday.
"The bill’s objective is clearly to nullify and block implementation of these executive actions, which would have devastating consequences," the White House statement said. "It would lead to the separation of families and prevent additional Dreamers from fully contributing to American life."
The White House veto threat was not surprising -- administration officials had indicated that any measures to end President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration would not get a signature. But it served as a reminder of how difficult it will be for Republicans to block Obama's immigration policies.
GOP members have said Obama's policies are just the latest in a string of actions that overstep his constitutional authority. The White House has said the policies will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to spend its limited resources deporting recent border-crossers, criminals and national security threats.
The largest piece of Obama's executive actions will allow parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to stay and work legally if they meet certain requirements, such as being in the U.S. for five or more years. It will also expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, which was created in 2012 to provide similar protections to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. under the age of 16. House Republicans have previously voted to do away with DACA.
The White House statement said the new House bill would hurt not just young undocumented immigrants and their families, but also hurt national security, the economy and immigration officials' ability to focus on serious threats.
"H.R. 5759 would make the broken immigration system worse, not better," the statement read. "By attempting to restrict the administration’s ability to conduct national security and criminal background checks on undocumented immigrants, H.R. 5759 would make the Nation’s communities less safe. By attempting to make it more difficult for undocumented workers to register and pay taxes, the bill would hurt the nation’s economy as well."
Republicans have vowed to fight against the executive actions on immigration, and some are pushing for language in funding bills next week that would ban the Department of Homeland Security from using funds to implement the policies. Republican leaders have indicated, however, that they instead will vote on a bill to fund DHS until next year, when a GOP-led Senate can help them in efforts to block Obama's immigration actions.