Rod Dreher's friend the immigration lawyer writes:
Real comprehensive immigration reform – seal the borders, amnesty those here – is never going to happen. The Democrats don't want to seal the borders, ever, because immigrants (eventually) vote Democrat (legally, if we're lucky). One third of the Republicans don't want to amnesty because they're immigrant (and Muslim!) hating know-nothings (I'm a conservative GOPer myself and I've learned this the hard way). Another third want to amnesty and also don't want to seal the borders because it is good for the economy. And the last third, who want a balanced approach, don't have the power to win on the issue, being one third of one half. Oh well.0
I think this is a reasonable analysis of the state of play, but I still don't see why it couldn't happen. What you need is a President who wants it to happen, and a Republican majority in Congress of the sort that we had, oh, about four months ago. First the President works with the two-thirds of the Republicans who support enforcement and peels off enough Democratic votes (the Dems are divided on the issue too, remember) to get a serious enforcement bill passed. Then, if and when the enforcement provisions seem to be working and the rate of illegal immigration has slowed to a more manageable rate - to roughly the rate in the 1980s, maybe - that same President (now into his second term, presumably) could work with the two-thirds of Republicans who might support amnesty and the many Democrats who would definitely support it, and get one passed.
The key ingredient here, obviously, is a President who isn't George W. Bush. As Mark Krikorian has argued, rightly I think, our current chief executive "is opposed — morally and emotionally repelled — by the idea of enforcing the border with Mexico. It's just uncompassionate, in his view, and nothing's going to change that." If someone wants to come to the U.S. to work, and someone in America is willing to hire them, Bush seems to believe that it's unjust to stand in their way. Which is why we are where we are today, and why a serious enforcement push was never going to happen under this President.