The Corner

DoJ Lawsuit Coming to a State Near You!

Justice Department sues Utah over state’s illegal immigration enforcement law

This is fourth state to be sued by the administration over immigration. None of these states has much chance of going for Obama next year, but is there a likely effect on the election more broadly? Josh Gerstein did a story in Politico on this question, and I still think what I told him is correct:

One critic of the administration’s lawsuits, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Obama might benefit from arguing the case in the Supreme Court and then losing it.

“The administration had a political incentive to file these cases to show their left flank and racial identity groups. … They’re doing something, but it’s in [the Obama team’s] interest to lose in the Supreme Court so it’s not quite as contentious an issue in these states.”

I’m sure the White House sincerely opposes state (or even federal!) enforcement of immigration laws, but it really does seem like the best political outcome for them would be for the Supreme Court to hear Arizona’s appeal (the first case to get that far) but then rule against the administration, thus somewhat reducing the salience of the lawsuits for Obama’s opponents. The campaign would then get to tell the Hispanic chauvinist groups that they did their best but the darn court stymied their efforts — all the more reason to get out the vote!

Some activists have already figured that out. Gerstein writes:

It’s also clear some Hispanics view the administration’s suits against SB 1070 and other laws as little more than a sop. While the Justice Department has held special briefings on the effort for immigrant rights activists, some remain deeply skeptical of Obama’s commitment to the broader immigration fight.

“I think it’s catering to the Latino leadership, the Latino population, but if you analyze it, it’s very little,” said Teodoro Maus, president of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. “It’s very little, very late. … He has to go for the throat, go for immigration reform that’s serious. All the rest is bull, playing with words, playing games.”

But Maus may not be representative of the reactions of the Hispanic racial-identity groups; he’s Mexico’s former representative to the U.N. and former consul in Atlanta. I suspect the rest of the La Raza crowd is likely to fall for Obama’s latest Lucy-holding-the-football gambit.

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