From SCOTUS to Brexit and back again

Agree or disagree with the outcome, last week’s one line, 4–4, SCOTUS non-decision regarding President Obama’s executive actions broke the hearts of millions of undocumented immigrants and their families.

Which is too easy to forget. But also the reason why immigration reform is so necessary.

So, onward.

Judge Hanen’s injunction remains in place and DACA/DAPA will now be litigated on its merits. Barring a rehearing of the case by the Court, this is a process that could wind on for a several more months. (The lawyers rejoice.) As always, Vox’s Dara Lind does a great explainer.

For Latino, Asian and allied voters, this is certain to be a radicalizing moment. Anger will be directed to voter registration and turnout, and, should Secretary Clinton win, she will feel intense pressure to make good on her 100 day pledge to move forward with immigration reform legislation. Advocates and the community will not make the mistake of 2009–2010 where Obama was let off the hook.

For Republicans, as I wrote for CNN.com, their legal victory ratchets up pressure for legislative movement. Are McConnell and Ryan in a position to move legislation in 2016? Certainly not. But, the spadework needs to begin this summer and fall to prepare for a 2017 window.

One promising sign is a joint statement by nine House Republicans immediately after the ruling that read, “We are committed to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.”

Meanwhile, the good people at the Public Religion Research Institute released a new report, “How Immigration and Concerns about Cultural Change are Shaping the 2016 Election.” Quick highlights:

  • 61% of Americans say immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements. Only 21% support the mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants.

That’s all fine and dandy. But will there be a Brexit effect? Yes and no.

PRRI found, “A majority (55%) of Americans believe that the American way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence, while more than four in ten (44%) disagree.” And, “Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Republicans and about eight in ten (83%) Trump supporters agree that the foreign influence over the American way of life needs to be curtailed.”

Which is worrying since Americans are nearly twice to think immigrants are changing society, but only 15% of Americans reported living in a community with large numbers of new immigrants.

So, yes, people are worried society and culture is changing. And they want to “take their country back.” We see that in the anger Trump taps into. And, Brexit is an across-the-pond manifestation of that fear. From whom are they taking back America is a legit question.

A few factors that lead me to believe the Brexit effect will be less than expected. First of all, the American electorate is younger, larger and more diverse than the British. And, second, in conservative circles, there is a very active debate regarding Trump’s, umm, “policy platform.”

The PRRI polling underscores the fact that this is now a debate about changing culture and values; not just the politics and policy of immigration. And that debate is taking place around the world.

Amanda Taub put it best as she wrote about Brexit and immigration last week, “for many people, identity trumps economics.”

(Charlie Cook’s column hits this point as well.)

So, what does this mean for the next 6 months?

To use a highly technical term, it’s going to be a s**t-show.

Be well.

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum and America is Better, author of There Goes the Neighborhood, host of the podcast, Only in America.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store