Republicans who would withhold Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding over issues with White House programs for illegal immigrants are cutting off their nose to spite their face, President Obama argued Wednesday.

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Meeting in the Oval Office with a group of young immigrants who would risk deportation without his actions, Obama said there is "no logic" to those who hoped to use the threat of a DHS shutdown to gain leverage on immigration.

He noted that the department is responsible for patrolling the borders, coasts and airports.

"Particularly for Republicans who claim that they are interested in strong border security, why would you cut off your nose to spite your face by defunding the very operations that are involved in making sure that we’ve got strong border security, particularly at a time when we’ve got real concerns about countering terrorism?" Obama asked.

Republicans passed a short-term extension of DHS funding late last year in hopes they could use the threat of a shutdown as leverage to force Obama to roll back his executive actions that defer deportations and give work permits to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants.

But Senate Republicans on Tuesday failed to advance the House plan, which Obama has already threatened to veto. That vote left GOP leaders scrambling to find alternative provisions they could include that might satisfy the right while also drawing Democratic support.

Obama said he was meeting with the immigrants because he wanted to demonstrate that "these kids are Americans just like us and they belong here."

"So often in this immigration debate, it's an abstraction and we don't really think about the human consequences of our positions," Obama said.

The president also looked to assure future applicants to his immigration program that he would not allow it to be overturned and expected the next president to continue it. There has been concern among some supporters that attempts to repeal the law would discourage applications because illegal immigrants would be afraid to identify themselves to the government for a program that might be overturned.

"I want you to know that I am confident in my ability to implement this program over the next two years, and I’m confident that the next president and the next Congress and the American people will ultimately recognize why this is the right thing to do," Obama said.