So the Gang of Eight can make the path to a green card and eventual citizenship as long and onerous as it wants. It can make applicants not only learn English but speak in an affected patrician accent. It can make them do handstands and cartwheels. All of that will be irrelevant to the lived reality of formerly illegal immigrants who can become legal once the Gang of Eight principles are written into law.

The Gang’s enforcement “triggers” affect only the path to citizenship. In principle, the enforcement provisions — requiring use of the E-Verify system for employers and establishing a system to monitor entries and exits from the country — are worthwhile. But only a naïf would have much confidence in their timely and effective implementation.

If we’ve established a bipartisan consensus on anything during the past 25 years, it is that immigration laws don’t matter. As Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies points out, Congress has already required the completion of an entry-exit system six times. To no avail. It passed a law in 2006 calling for the completion of a double-layer border fence. Also, to no avail.