Tough talk: Why immigration reformers say "Get right with the law"

Reform supporters have also discovered that anecdotes highlighting the struggles of illegal immigrants don’t work. If a man has entered the United States illegally, many audiences aren’t terribly sympathetic even if he has worked in a hot kitchen 12 hours a day to send money back to his family in Mexico. So some advocates has dialed back on the anecdotes.

What does work? Words and phrases that focus on the law. “Rule of law,” for example, is quite effective. But perhaps the most effective phrase for reform advocates now is “get right with the law,” as in requiring currently illegal immigrants to comply with strict legal requirements as a condition of allowing them to live openly in the United States…

By including the phrase, the authors of the GOP principles were making a nod to the dozens of reform advocates who have adopted “get right with the law” recently.