It has been almost 10 years since Congress came close to forging a bipartisan overhaul of the nation's antiquated immigration laws. Today, however, the Kennedy-McCain bill is little more than barely recalled ancient history.
If there were a good reason to believe that the Republican-controlled House would now agree to immigration reforms other than more fences and border patrols, perhaps President Obama wouldn't have needed to take executive action last month. But with House members spewing fearmongering rhetoric, there was no hope for compromise legislation.
Similar vitriol killed the bipartisan reform proposal made last year by the so-called Gang of Eight senators. In the end, Republicans who helped craft the legislation treated it as untouchable.
No wonder Obama decided to act unilaterally to allow millions of otherwise law-abiding residents to stay in America even though they immigrated illegally. But he did so only after unwisely delaying the order to protect vulnerable Democrats in the midterm elections. It didn't help. Now Obama has done what he should have done weeks if not months ago.
One important aspect of his order is that it will make it easier for highly skilled professionals and entrepreneurs to stay in the country. The nation needs them even more than the millions of undocumented workers in our fields and factories.
That's the reality that reform foes ignore: America needs more immigrants to bolster its labor force, provide innovation, and become taxpaying citizens.