The real strength of the GOP establishment on GOP immigration policy lies in its ability to generate principled agreement on immigration policy among the most credible Republican presidential contenders. These contenders would likely all prefer the indefinite extension of the status quo over a compromise that delayed legalization of the existing unauthorized immigrant population until the implementation of a visa tracking system and mandatory employment verification.
The result is that the only “compromises ” populist conservatives are likely to see in the near future are Gang of Eight-style nonsense in which the GOP establishment tries to sell its own wish list as a necessary compromise.
One last point. The GOP establishment is not just made up of the Washington lobbyists and consultants and big donors. It is also made up of local business executives and business owners for whom upfront amnesty, and guest worker programs are just good business and common sense. The GOP split on immigration is the result of sociology rather than conspiracy.