However, if 11 million people cannot have their existence legally sanctioned, what happens? There are only two real options: They can be ignored, or they can be deported. Mass deportation of settled families is too cruelly stupid even for the majority of House Republicans, in addition to being logistically impossible. Republicans simply won’t go that far, especially in advance of a presidential election in which — did I mention Hispanic voters? That leaves the status quo: ignoring undocumented immigrants as they go about their noncitizen, nonlegal lives.
Obama has been a remarkably poor political communicator for someone with an obvious gift for narrative. But even he will be able to point out that the Republican plan comes down to maintaining a status quo that they themselves claim is broken. Before the game gets to that point, however, various Republican loudmouths will have had a grand time making the party sound bigoted, backward and mean. And they will demand another vote — this one with higher stakes — to shut the door for good on “amnesty.”
Of course, it’s always possible that McConnell and Boehner could see Obama and raise him — rallying their party to pass comprehensive legislation that addresses core issues while rationalizing the most illogical elements of immigration law. If you’re chuckling at the preposterous naivete of such a suggestion, rest assured that Obama, battered and beaten as he is by another midterm debacle, can still appreciate a joke.