Written off for dead, immigration reform could still live

But that doesn’t keep immigration reformers from trying, and hoping. “There is still a window,” says one House GOP aide involved in crafting a reform proposal. “The leadership has said keep working on it and see what you can do.”

Republican immigration proponents have been quietly talking to GOP members throughout even the craziest days of the shutdown and default fights. They report some progress. Yes, the most conservative House Republicans are mostly against them. But those with a libertarian bent are more open to the cause. The aide says reformers have had good meetings “with a few of those guys who were with Ted Cruz at Tortilla Coast,” referring to the House conservatives who held out longest against a deal to end the shutdown.

But the problem for reformers is not the fractiousness of House Republicans, although that doesn’t help. The problem is that the reformers have never found a way to balance the border security demands of conservatives with the reformers’ demand for quick legalization of the 11 million-plus immigrants currently in the United States illegally. The conservatives must have security first, and then legalization (and even then, some won’t ever support reform). The reformers won’t wait until security is in place before starting legalization.