The second fallacy is the notion that the Dream Act would be a magnet pulling in hordes of undocumented migrants. The potential beneficiaries have waited 17 years for a law offering them protection. If it were passed, the typical recipient would have to wait another 13 years to apply for citizenship.

Even if such legislation were enacted into law, there can’t be many foreigners who would bet their lives that another version will be adopted decades from now. Not to mention that the foreigners pondering that wager would know that in the best scenario, they would never gain legal status; only their children would. Some incentive.

As it happens, though, there is hardly any chance Congress and the president will act to protect these innocents from the threat of bitter exile. Unable to muster wisdom and resolve, our policymakers will default to cruelty.