But once in power, the party is hamstrung. Yes, 60 percent of Republicans (joining 82 percent of Democrats) consider it somewhat or very important that those who came to the U.S. illegally as children be allowed to stay. But that leaves 40 percent of the party considering it “not too important” or “not important at all.” That’s a lot of Republicans — somewhere between one-third and one-half of the party — who are relatively indifferent to the issue, with a portion of them actively opposed to allowing these immigrants to stay in the country at all.
Why should that be a problem? Parties, especially in a two-party system like ours, are rarely ideologically coherent across all issues. When a significant fissure opens up over policy, the faction of the party that finds common ground with the opposition party is supposed to reach a compromise that reflects the state of public opinion in the country as a whole. In this case, we would get a bipartisan bill creating something like Obama’s DACA with proper legislative authorship. Well over two-thirds of the country would approve of such a solution.