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Destler Dodge

John Boehner’s attempts to stop President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration may have some collateral damage — damage that could even affect students at RIT.

CBS news reports that Obama's executive actions will protect close to 5 million illegal immigrants from being deported. Boehner is threatening to cut funding to the Department of Homeland Security if the executive actions are not reversed. If either Democrats or Republicans do not back down on the issue of immigration reform by Feb. 27, then the Department of Homeland Security will lose its funding and go into a “shutdown.”

Fortunately, a shutdown is not nearly as bad as it sounds. A Department of Homeland security shutdown occurred as recently as 2013. It resulted in 13 percent of the department's employees going unpaid; however, all employees considered essential for the protection of life and property were kept on duty and paid.

Although a shutdown doesn’t equate to anarchy by any measure, it does have some side effects that shouldn’t be taken lightly. ABC news reported on these consequences, which included the possible loss of the E-verify system. The E-verify system is described on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' website as "an internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility."

According to the Student Employment Office at RIT, the Human Resources (HR) Department is responsible for use of the E-verify system. HR could not be reached to comment on the importance of the E-verify system, but if the program that allows international students a swift hiring process which is also safe for RIT is not available, this could be a blow to equality on campus. The employees responsible for maintaining and operating the E-verify system would also not be paid during a shutdown.

Friedrich Griessel, a first year Biology major here at RIT and dual citizen of Germany and the United States, stresses the importance of college jobs. He commented over an online messenger,  “Not all have the means to spend four years getting an education without a job on the side. Many come here for the education, but also want to do some exploring on the side as part of the culture exchange we all prize. That requires a certain amount of money.”

While it is true that the impending shutdown will not jeopardize the safety of the United States, it can jeopardize equality on college campuses if a swift background check is not available for international students. International students need to be able to have the same ease of access as American students in order to compete for jobs that can go fast. The conflict between Republicans and Democrats over the unrelated issue of immigration reform unjustly threatens the ability of international students to pay for their education, and tosses them into the pool of casualties that will surely result from a Department of Homeland Security shutdown.