For the record, I never suggested that we swallow whole the ill-fated comprehensive immigration reform package of 2007. However, I have consistently advocated engagement and compromise in the pursuit of a workable immigration solution.

No matter, I clearly warned that obstructionism and an unwillingness to take part in the process would lead to de facto amnesty and a continuation of the less-than-desirable status quo.

But, perhaps I had all that figured wrong. Something is happening.

From the President today:

A Press Release from the WH today in re "Improving Border Security and Immigration Within Existing Law."

The Plan?

--improve border security
--improve interior and worksite enforcement
--streamline and improve existing guest worker and immigration policies and procedures
--extra concentration on assimilation

More details from the WH website here.

Recently the three Republican amigos (Jon Kyle, John McCain and Lindsey Graham) offered tougher, non-comprehensive legislation aimed at meeting the immediate demands of cultural conservatives (story via the Washington Post here). Taken together with the President's policy, this new posture seems to indicate that Republican leaders now understand their mandate: secure the border and crack down on illegal immigrants. After that, anti-illegal-immigration conservatives say we can talk about ways to provide low-wage labor for business needs, carving out paths to citizenship, and humanitarian relief to our undocumented neighbors.

Has the President and Republican Party leaders submitted to the voice of the grassroots? Evidently.

A tougher question: will this new strategy succeed?

Attainment seems uncertain. I retain my doubts that hard-line bills without incentives for immigration liberals can ever gain passage. We'll see. Considering the short-term political climate regarding immigration, however, it is possible to imagine stampeding enough moderate Democrats from heartland congressional districts to vote for a tougher immigration regime. Possible--but still not probable in my view. Such a scenario would require a full-blown rebellion against Nancy Pelosi and an unlikely 60-vote consensus in the Senate.

On the other hand, even a failed effort at hardcore legislation forces rank-and-file Democrats to vote against a wall and other hot-button issues, which will be good politics (at least in the near term). However, that political advantage does nothing to solve the festering national problem.

Time will tell.