Each camp was more interested in sending a message than making good policy.
For Republicans, the message was “Keep Out.” But no one took that directive seriously, given that contributions from big business is the mother’s milk of the GOP, and big business would be a lot smaller without illegal immigrant labor. Take California agribusiness, which contributes mightily to Republicans in the state. The industry generates more than $45 billion annually in revenue, and it would shrivel up like a raisin in the sun without illegal immigrants.
Indeed, a big reason that the nation’s most populous state is home to an estimated 2.5 million illegal immigrants is because it’s also home to countless farmers, ranchers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, construction firms, small-businessmen, and homeowners who rely on illegal immigrant labor for their slice of the California Dream. This game is all about supply and demand, and you never hear those tough-talking Republicans say anything about cracking down on the demand side.