The news that Barack Obama would take executive action on immigration made a big impression in Texas, a state that includes about 1200 miles of America’s southern border, about 2 million of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, and a number of Republican leaders who have taken accused Mr Obama of playing politics on the issue even before last week’s announcement. Greg Abbott, the attorney-general and governor-elect, denounced the president’s action as unconstitutional, and said that he would sue; Ted Cruz called on Republicans in Congress (who will control both chambers come January) to respond by declining to confirm most presidential appointments and by limiting appropriations.
We’ve yet to see how this will all play out, both politically and in practice, in part because the details of what the president plans to do haven’t been fully laid out. In the meantime, I’m agnostic about the question of whether the president’s actions are legal, but skeptical of his normative rationale for acting alone. I laid out the reasons why at some length here, and would encourage readers who come directly to BurkaBlog to check out my argument and the comments thread, which has some good discussion.
On a related note: this year’s exit polls revealed that the Republicans running for statewide office in Texas won more than 40% of the Hispanic vote–44% for Abbott, 46% for Dan Patrick, 49% for John Cornyn. This was an eye-catching result for national observers–in 2012 Obama carried Hispanic voters by a roughly 50-point margin–but it’s not totally out of keeping with Texas precedent. Karl Rove recently said that in Texas, Republicans average about 40% of the Hispanic vote; PolitiFact looked into the comment and rated it True. To me, the results suggest that at a moment when both parties are increasingly interested in Hispanic voters, a quickly growing share of the state and national electorate, they may also be misinterpreting what Hispanic voters care about. I explained what I think is going on here, over at National Review.