For American citizens who look Mexican, or Guatemalan, or El Salvadoran, or Columbian, the pardon creates new vulnerability to racial profiling and other violations of the 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the law. Should outrage over the matter fade, Republicans will keep pandering to anti-immigrant voters by abetting rights violations against Latinos, knowing they won’t pay an electoral price.
A backlash would not be without precedent. The whole trajectory of California politics changed after the passage of Proposition 187, a Republican-backed ballot initiative to deny state services to illegal immigrants that passed in 1994 with 59 percent of the vote, but turned the state’s fastest growing constituency, who took it as an insult, against the GOP for a generation (and counting). Will Trump’s political gamble fare better?