Why Republicans Might Want to Rethink Their Victory Lap on Immigration

PHOTO: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 9, 2014.

Republicans, especially some of the potential 2016 presidential candidates, were quick to claim a victory this week after a judge in Texas ordered a temporary halt to some of President Obama’s controversial immigration actions.

"The Texas court decision reached last night is a major turning point in the fight to stop Obama's lawless amnesty," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday. "This is a major victory for the rule of law; the District Court's ruling states that President Obama must now stop implementing these policies in 'any and all aspects.'”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal added: "Louisiana joined this lawsuit [that 26 states filed against Obama] because what the president is doing to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens is unconstitutional, and we’re glad the court agreed.

“On his own volition, President Obama ignored the law and the will of the American people.”

Another potential 2016er, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, called Obama’s action a “blatant overreach of executive power, an affront to the rule of law, and put partisan politics in front of lasting solutions.”

But it could be a short-term victory because immigration is a potential landmine for Republicans who will be seeking the White House in 2016.

A poll out Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute found that most Americans -- 73 percent -- support Congress moving forward to pass a comprehensive bill rather than working to undo some of President Obama’s executive actions, including the ability of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and legal safety from deportation.

Looking to 2016, and those GOP candidates, it’s even more apparent why there’s a question about whether the federal judge’s ruling is a victory for Republicans.

The poll found there is a stark racial divide, with 80 percent of both blacks and Hispanics agreeing that Obama should have taken executive action, with 53 percent of whites agreeing.

Additionally, in a press call with top Republican donors Tuesday, including Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman, the issue of immigration was one they advocate for fixing.

On the call, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants and a former economic adviser to Romney, highlighted about 35 percent of Hispanic voters in swing states who reported having an immediate family member or close friend at risk of deportation, saying “people vote with their hearts.”

He also said that the three-quarter of purple states that will decide the next election are moderate- or high-growth states for Hispanics.

As for 2016, viewing the judge’s decision, whether it stands or not, as a victory depends on which voters you ask.