Immigration is America's headache. It's a crisis that has been the subject of federal inaction for too long by both parties. Now, Republicans, in particular, have a vested interest in getting something done about immigration. In 2012, Barack Obama received over 70% of the Hispanic vote, which could spell doom for the future of American conservatism. Romney's support for self-deportation ruined his chances of making inroads within that community, and conservatives should quit the "deport all the illegals" sentiment. It's not going to happen.
As George Will aptly noted, the American people would never tolerate the police measures required to find all of them. Additionally, in a hypothetical scenario, if we were to capture all the illegal immigrants in the United States, it would take a line of buses from San Diego to Alaska to send them on their way. It's a logistical nightmare, it's not worth the taxpayers’ money, and it's time Republicans deal with that fact. A pathway to citizenship is probably going to happen. Currently, both the president and the Gang of Eight's plan give a long waiting period of thirteen years before illegals can secure citizenship. For ten of those years, they'll be waiting in line for the green cards — and that's where the other side of this debate begins.
What's this going to cost? Under Obamacare, legal aliens are eligible for health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after five years of residency. We've already spent a trillion dollars on this new health care entitlement, and we could add an additional $400+ billion to the price tag. Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner wrote last January:
"... the CBO estimated that the law would cover an additional 11 million people on Medicaid (at a cost of $643 billion from 2013 through 2022) and 25 million through the exchanges (at a cost of just over $1 trillion over the same period). So, for every additional 1 million people on Medicaid, the federal government will be spending about $58 billion over the next decade and for every 1 million people on the exchange, taxpayers would be spending about $41 billion. Projecting this out for 8 million new beneficiaries would give a range of $328 billion to $464 billion."
Our national debt is over $16 trillion. Our unfunded liabilities from our entitlement programs are pushing $80-100 trillion. An immigration deal that doesn't address the increased burden of the welfare state on the American taxpayer is irresponsible. What good is an immigration deal if it only adds more debt? That's something Republicans won't find palatable, and neither would moderate voters, who will inevitably be hit with more taxes to fund the expansion of these programs.
Then again, with these increased costs to our welfare state, could Republicans be playing the long game and trying to put the entire ACA in the crosshairs? If Americans don't find paying more in taxes to expand welfare programs for people who broke the law acceptable, it could place immense pressure on Democrats to tweak portions of Obamacare. Given their affinity for entitlement programs, Democratic intransigence could be deadly ammunition for attacks by Republicans. Furthermore, given that Obamacare has increased premiums by 32%, Republicans could say that the whole bill doesn't cut costs – which is what they've been saying since 2009 – and a new bill must be drafted.