By Alex Gonzalez
Last week, Texas and other 16 GOP states filed a lawsuit against president Obama over his decision to use “executive action” on immigration. But why GOP states with no significant immigrant population are suing Obama, but other states with Republican governors with large immigrant population are not supporting the lawsuit? The answer is 2016.
These are the states Suing Obama: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Maine, North Carolina, and Texas.
I put the top ten states with the largest immigrant population in the country in this table, with both Republican and Democrat governors.
With the exception of Texas, all states suing Obama have small immigrant populations, whereas states with large Hispanic Immigrant population in the southwest, including Republican states like Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Arizona, are not suing Obama. And there is a reason.
Those states not suing Obama are purple states that could play a big role in the coming presidential election of 2016.
For example, Illinois–state with 20 Electoral College Votes–just elected a Republican governor, but governor-elect Bruce Rauner is not suing Obama. Similarly, Rick Scott in Florida–state with 29 Electoral College Votes–just won re-election, but he is also staying away from the lawsuit; Florida voted twice for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Rick Scott was re-elected with only 49 percent. Both Florida and Illinois have a large Hispanic, immigrant and native, population.
In New Mexico, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez won reelection with 58 percent with strong support from Hispanics in the state. But New Mexico is a purple state with largest share of Hispanic vote, and New Mexico has voted Democrat in the last two presidential elections.
In Nevada, voters also re-elected Republican Brian Sandoval with an overwhelming 71 percent in November; and Nevada, just like Florida and New Mexico, is a purple state that has voted Democrat in 2008 and 2012 presidential elections with a strong active Hispanic voting bloc with Republican governors.
In New Jersey, another state with a Republican governor, Chris Christie, that may run for president, and with a large immigrant Hispanic population, wants nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Furthermore, Arizona, a state that has been on the forefront of “the war against illegal immigration” did not join the lawsuit. Moreover, Arizona fought Obama on DACA for a year by denying driver licenses to DACA applicants. But Arizona lost the lawsuit in a Federal Court three weeks ago. So this time around Arizona is staying away from suing Obama.
Thus, swing states with Republican governors, and large Hispanic population, see this lawsuit as potential backlash in 2016 among Hispanic voter.
Conversely, Republican states with very small population of immigrants and that are solid RED for the 2016 presidential election, are suing Obama for his “executive order.” For example, if you look the Pew map, in states like Maine, South Dakota and Montana the immigrant population is so small that it does not even show up in the data.
Thus, all these states had to have a state like Texas with large immigrant population, but reliably Republican, to have a case and with no danger of voting Democrat in 2016, at least that is the assumption.
While the legal merits, or “standing,” alleges economic “harm” due to Deffered Action for Minors (DACA) “executive order” in 2012, some states with Republican governors with large DACA applicants, like Arizona Nevada, Florida, New Mexico and New Jersey, are staying away from the lawsuit.
The coalition of voters in the presidential election in 2016 will be very different from the Mid-term, and Republicans will need Hispanic voters in all swing states to win the White House. As a result, some GOP governors have decided that they are safer not suing Obama.
It is not clear whether the lawsuit against Obama will have any “standing” in federal courts, but one thing is clear: the lawsuit is loaded with 2016 presidential politics.