department of homeland security

Bush: Borders less secure if Congress cuts off DHS dollars

OXON HILL, Md. — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was skeptical of some conservatives’ efforts to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security unless President Barack Obama’s immigration actions are derailed.

Bush, who is weighing a presidential bid, told party activists huddled near Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that he backs efforts to roll back Obama’s executive actions. But coupling those efforts with the Homeland Security budget left him confused.

“Look, I’m not an expert on the ways of Washington,” the son of one president and brother of another said. “It makes no sense to me that we’re not funding the control of our border, which is the whole argument. I’m missing something.”

With directives issued in 2012 and earlier this year, Obama largely eliminated the threat of deportation for more than 4 million immigrants who entered the country illegally, including some brought to the U.S. as youngsters.

Conservatives in Congress initially linked those actions with funding for the Department of Homeland Security. But the department’s current budget was set to run out late Friday night, and Congressional Republicans were trying to approve a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial agency shutdown hours before it was to begin. The interim plan would leave in place the actions that Republicans have vowed to overturn.

Bush said he considered Obama’s actions extraordinary and illegal. He predicted they would be struck down if Congress fails to act first.

A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the administration from carrying out Obama’s 2014 policy. The White House has appealed that ruling, and Obama has said he would take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“The simple fact is the president has gone way beyond his constitutional powers to do this. Congress has every right to reinstate their responsibility,” Bush said.

Bush also used his turn to try to win over conservative activists who are queasy about his record on immigration and education policies.

But several dozen people walked out of the room in protest shortly after Bush started his speech.

“No more Bushes! No more Clinton!” chanted Georgia tea party activist William Temple, who led the walkout. “What’s he doing here? He’s an establishment candidate, not a conservative candidate.”


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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