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What We Already Know About U.S. v Texas: Eventual Ruling Will Matter Politically and the Pro-Immigrant Movement is Ready for Whatever the Outcome

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As observers pore through the transcript of yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing in United States v Texas, there’s a lot of speculation and guesswork on display. Oftentimes, the conventional wisdom immediately after the arguments about what the questioning may mean for the ultimate outcome is off-base – see the 2012 immigration case Arizona v. U.S. or challenges to Obamacare for notable examples where the initial assessments proved misguided.

While speculation and uncertainty will continue until the Court issues a final ruling, we already do know that the U.S. v Texas case represents a test of principles for Chief Justice John Roberts.  Will he recognize the political underpinnings of U.S. v Texas, remain true to his well-articulated views on politicization and standing, and rule against the GOP plaintiffs? Clearly, if Chief Justice Roberts stays consistent in his view of the judiciary as a forum to resolve legal and not political disputes, the Republican plaintiffs will lose.

Ultimately, we very likely won’t know the outcome of U.S. v. Texas for several more months. But we already do know a few things about the impact of the case, what it has again revealed about the state of the pro-immigration movement, and what it means politically for 2016 and beyond:

The pro-immigrant movement is engaged, strong, and ready for whatever the outcome: Whichever way the Supreme Court ends up ruling on U.S. v Texas, the pro-reform movement is primed to fight to defend these executive actions against Republican efforts to overturn them – or exact payback against the party that helped block the policies from being implemented. Outside the Supreme Court yesterday, the pro-reform movement “greatly outnumbered conservative opponents of Obama’s action,” as Reuters described, and engaged in a joyful rally featuring heartfelt testimonials from affected family members, as well as music, songs, and dancing (check out images from outside of the Supreme Court here). 

The political impact of the U.S. v Texas ruling will be consequential this November and beyond: According to new nationwide polling conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of America’s Voice (early questions released last Friday, with full polling released this later week), Latino voters will punish the Republicans for opposing executive action and reward the Democrats for defending it. Per the new polling, knowing that Republican presidential candidates want to end DAPA, the 2014 executive action that would protect the undocumented parents of American children, makes Latino voters “less likely,” rather than “more likely,” to vote for the Republican Party this November by a 74%-14% margin in the case of DAPA. Similarly, knowing that Republican presidential candidates want to end DACA, the 2012 executive action that protects Dreamers, makes Latino voters “less likely,” rather than “more likely,” to vote for the Republican Party this November by a 73%-12% margin. Meanwhile, knowing that Democratic presidential candidates want to continue DAPA and DACA makes Latino voters “more likely,” rather than “less likely,” to vote for the Democratic Party this November by a 74%-15% margin in the case of DAPA and a 74%-13% margin in the case of DACA.

Latinos and pro-immigration voters don’t see this as just a policy issue. It’s personal: Numbers from the new Latino Decisions polling, underscores the fact that Latino voters have a personal connection to the immigration debate – 57% of Latino voters know someone who is undocumented; one-third of Latino voters (34%) know someone who has faced deportation or detention for immigration reasons; and one- third of Latino voters (33%) know someone who has applied for DACA.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “This case is a real test for Chief Justice John Roberts.  Will he stick to his principles on the question of standing, or will he enable and allow the Republican Party to politicize his court?  The stakes are high for Roberts, but they’re also high for the millions of American children and families who are counting on this policy to help them take a step forward.  The pro-immigration movement organized to create these policies, defend them in the courts, and get ready to implement them. Our strength and power was on display yesterday, and it’s clear that we’re a movement that’s learned how to win and won’t give up until we do.”