Lowry has been consistent in his opposition to comprehensive reform, having opposed two previous bills. Kristol is new to the “no amnesty” crowd, however. He urged Republicans to support the earlier immigration bills, which had far less stringent border security conditions and far more generous terms for citizenship than the current one provides. I suspect his opposition is rooted in the desire to deny Obama a major accomplishment. But that kind of politics, even if it is more tactical than ideological, is also an argument for letting the country suffer its problems rather than addressing them through compromise with political rivals.

Our current immigration system is hurting small, medium and big businesses in every region of our country. Our border is not adequately secure. Our global competitiveness is being harmed. These are serious problems in urgent need of relief. The Senate bill would relieve them and provide broad economic benefits to the country. And it would treat humanely people who came here for a better life and are not leaving, no matter what Congress does or does not do.

Many of the criticisms of the Senate measure that Kristol and Lowry make are just wrong. To name a glaring example, the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is conditioned on substantial border security improvements. It’s hard to imagine what more could possibly be done to secure the border beyond the bill’s provisions. And, contrary to their contention, the president and Congress could not simply neglect to enforce those provisions while millions of illegal immigrants become citizens. They make several other false charges against the legislation, but those would take another column to refute.