Barro insists that immigration reform isn’t dead. But he thinks the final bill might not include a path to citizenship:
Of course, Democrats have repeatedly insisted that immigration reform isn’t comprehensive if it doesn’t contain a path to citizenship. But if they’re presented with a bill that serves most of their other goals, will they really turn it down? There are a few reasons they shouldn’t. Legalization would lead to a major advance in quality of life for unauthorized immigrants even if it didn’t come with a path to citizenship. A substantial fraction of newly-legalized immigrants would later become eligible for citizenship through existing channels, such as marriage to a citizen or sponsorship by a relative, even without a special path.
Perhaps most importantly, legalization would bring formerly unauthorized immigrants out of the shadows and enable them to lobby for a path to citizenship in the future.
Even the path to citizenship in the Senate immigration bill wouldn’t lead to the creation of any new U.S. citizens until 2026. Democrats will almost surely control the whole federal government at some point between now and then, so if there’s no path to citizenship in an immigration bill passed this year, they will likely be able to enact one later.
Ezra believes that the obvious compromise is a “path to citizenship that almost no immigrant wants to walk down”:
The trick with this plan, say its advocates, is managing the two communication challenges: Persuading Republicans that it’s not a real path to citizenship while persuading Democrats it is a real path to citizenship. That may not be possible. Republicans may not be open to that kind of nuance, and even if they are, Democrats may not be willing to vote for an immigration bill that makes citizenship so difficult.
My view? No path, no bill. It’s absurd we cannot accept the reality of millions of illegal aliens whom we can never deport but whom we nonetheless deny citizenship. It’s the creation of two classes of American: separate and unequal. And it hurts the economy, human beings, and their core dignity. Yes, we need better border enforcement – but this bill throws a huge amount of resources at that.