So, tell me why this won't work. With the amnesty debate coming again to the forefront I was thinking there might be a solution that actually works to the favor of, or at least isn't disastrous for, the center/right. Why not offer half amnesty where long-time illegal aliens would be granted a legal permanent residency, but one that precludes them from becoming citizens. It would be a special category of green card that says one can live and work here, but may never apply for citizenship as long as one holds it. To become eligible for citizenship a resident would have to surrender his green card, return to his home country, and apply to return legally like everyone else.
The beauty of this is that it removes the emotional "living in the shadows" argument and recognizes as a practical matter that most illegals here aren't going anywhere while still justly penalizing the law breaking and denying the left millions of new voters. Sure the left will demand full citizenship, but that's a much harder sell when the debate shifts from illegal aliens being trapped in poverty to legal residents being justly sanctioned for being scofflaws. Of course this half amnesty must be combined with much tougher enforcement of current laws against hiring or contracting with illegal alien labor and with stronger border enforcement to mitigate the moral hazard of amnesty encouraging more illegal immigration, but it seems workable. It would mostly neutralize the amnesty issue. It may, but probably not, improve Republican standing with Hispanics. It likely would improve Republican standing with swing voters. And, it would at least partially mollify the hard anti-illegal wing. What's not to like? (Plenty, I'm sure so please tell me).