What we have now is typically referred to as “the status quo.” For immigration and labor migration, external and internal, this means 11 million people in perpetual legal limbo, legal immigration severely restricted, employers increasingly unable to find willing workers, crucial industries dependent on a shrinking supply of illegal labor, a border slightly porous, and the technological tools for rooting out undocumented labor becoming more widespread and effective.
Is the status quo acceptable? To House Republicans, yes. Recently, the House leadership floated a list of principles for immigration reform that had tough language aplenty — on “internal enforcement” and border militarization, with heavily conditional legalization of the 11 million undocumented already here, with no path to citizenship and no possibility of becoming Democrats. That trial balloon apparently was quickly speared from the right. Speaker John Boehner announced there will be no immigration reform this year, because Republicans don’t trust President Obama to enforce the law. Many observers thought this was excuse-making hooey, that GOP eyes were on the November elections and preserving their somewhat paranoid party unity.