How a Donald Trump rout could lead to immigration reform in 2017

The answer is simple: Paul Ryan could just decide to make it happen.

He might do it by working to win over some of the conservative opponents with a complex process of negotiation, in which they could be won over by the inclusion of beefed-up border control and improvements to the E-Verify system through which employers are supposed to check employees’ immigration status (depending on the details, pro-reform Democrats would be just fine with that). But it’s possible that most conservative Republicans would oppose any bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, no matter what else it contains.

In that case, Ryan could solve the impasse by giving his caucus a simple message: I know most of you would catch hell if you voted for this. But if we’re ever going to have a chance of taking back the White House, we need to show Latinos we don’t hate them, and passing comprehensive immigration reform is a necessary (if not sufficient) step toward that end. So I’m putting the bill up for a vote. Vote “no” if you have to, but it’s going to pass.

Most of them would vote no — maybe two-thirds, maybe even more. But the rest, combined with almost all the Democratic votes, would be enough to pass the bill.