Nevertheless, once there is wholesale granting of probationary status under the Gang of Eight’s plan, the pressure from the advocates to declare the border secure in order to convert the probationers to full-fledged legal status will be irresistible. Indeed, the declaration and the conversion will likely occur in well under the eight years that Obama’s plan sets out. But in any case all of these details within the two plans and the minute distinctions between them are utterly irrelevant to intending illegal aliens — the only thing that matters is the removal of illegal status.

Yet with Obama’s plan now out there, Senator Marco Rubio and other Republicans in the bipartisan group get to position themselves as immigration hawks. Rubio denounced the plan as “half-baked and seriously flawed,” and said that it would “actually make our immigration problems worse.” It is not at all clear that the same can’t be said for the Gang of Eight’s proposal. But now that latter proposal can be packaged as the tough-on-enforcement version of comprehensive immigration reform, and who could oppose that?

Had the Gang of Eight denounced Obama’s plan for not refocusing the legal system on admitting high-skilled immigrants, rather than family reunification, they might have had a meaningful complaint. But there is no such refocusing in the Gang of Eight proposal either.