GOP presidential candidates headed into another debate Tuesday on the heels of the latest setback for the Obama administration and activists on immigration.
The defeat for the administration dealt by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals could fire up the discussion on immigration, with candidates pointing to it as affirmation of their views and evidence of their criticism of President Barack Obama’s use of executive action.
But the candidates may have to wade gingerly through the issue. They have been put on notice by GOP Latinos to steer clear of the type of rhetoric and proposals that have been used by Donald Trump against immigrants, or risk losing support for their candidacy in the general election.
Jeb Bush, seen as more supportive as immigration reform, has not supported Obama's use of executive action and backs the 5th Circuit decision, said spokeswoman Emily Benavides.
"The president must follow the rule of law, and when Jeb Bush is president, he’ll enact reforms working with our congressional leaders to ensure the safety of our country and that our immigration system becomes an economic driver,” she said.
Message requesting reaction to the 5th Circuit’s ruling from other GOP campaigns were not immediately returned.
The 5th Circuit decision continues to block implementation of two programs that would shield from deportation millions of people, especially young adults, living in the U.S. but who arrived or stayed illegally, and allow them to work.
The Department of Justice said Tuesday it plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Republican candidates taking the stage tonight have opposed the president’s use of his executive powers to authorize the programs.
Meanwhile, it’s certain to be fodder for the Democrats who will continue to use it to hammer Republicans about their commitment to the Latino and other communities. All the Democratic candidates have said they want to extend to some degree Obama’s relief for immigrants here illegally.
“It is reasonable for Latino and immigrant communities to be frustrated by the continuing court delays, but we also understand that it is anti-immigrant conservative politicians that are to blame,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, which works to turn out Latino voters.
“We cannot control the courts, but we will have a say in political outcomes,” Monterroso said in a statement. “It is now up to us -- Latino voters and groups like ours that are working every day to grow our vote in the 2016 national election -- to elect candidates who respect our communities and will commit to working on our issues and treating us fairly."
Democratic candidates meet in a debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.
Hillary Clinton generated some buzz Tuesday after saying at a New Hampshire campaign event that she had voted several times to build a border barrier to keep out "illegal immigrants." Some were offended by her use of the word and her rival Martin O'Malley criticized her in a statement for "bragging" about building a "border fence."
Video clips were posted and circulated with that comment. But missing from those clips was what she went on to say, which was reported by The Hill newspaper.
“But I think that it’s also true that we need to do more to try to number one, deal with the people who are already here, many of whom have been here for decades,” Clinton added. "It is just never going to happen that we’re going to round up and deport 11 or 12 million people.
“I don’t care how tall the wall is or how big the door is, that is never going to happen. And I think that’s an unnecessarily provocative thing to say," she said.