It was always clear that the 11 million people in this country without papers were not going to be rounded up and deported. The question was when our leaders would officially recognize this fact — which could only happen if Republicans decided that demonizing illegal immigrants was bad politics.
The November election answered that question. Mitt Romney said the magic word “self-deportation” and lost among Latino and Asian-American voters by nearly 3-to-1. Suddenly, the darkness lifted and Republicans began to see the light.
Some Republicans, but not all. Given the extensive overlap between the “principles” laid out by a bipartisan group of senators and those offered by President Barack Obama, I believe there is a strong possibility that immigration reform can be accomplished within the next few months. But it still won't be easy.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called Rubio “amazingly naive on this issue” and also “nuts.” Some of the conservative commentariat has been less reserved.
National Review editor Rich Lowry called the Senate plan a “scam” that is likely to become “a monument to bad faith.” My Washington Post colleague Charles Krauthammer called the proposal “highly misleading” and complained that it would lead to “instant legalization” for those here without papers. Rush Limbaugh has vowed to fight the measure with all he's got — but predicted that he and other opponents would ultimately lose.