“I think when the American people saw that outburst, they saw it for what it was. It’s created a backlash against the anti-immigrant position, and I think it’s helped the health care bill move forward. And it’s provided momentum for comprehensive immigration reform.” -- Rep. Jared Polis
Immigration reform along the lines of the Bush-McCain-Kennedy 2007 effort is manifestly a good thing and necessary. There are really no alternatives: the status quo is unacceptable--what we have now is essentially a silent amnesty, and rounding them all up is impossible and will produce some of the most cringingly godawful news footage you've ever seen.
I think that the politics on this are dicey but manageable. The key difference, as I see it, is that there are about a half-dozen Republican senators that are committed to reform--or were in the past, at least. The ideological hurdle isn't present as it was in health care, and if you rig up a system in which illegal immigrants pay off back taxes to gain legal status, we're talking about something that could help with the deficit. Make it clear that there will be background checks, beefing up border patrols, etc., and I think this could be doable and bipartisan, to some extent.
All the same, I wonder whether the growing support for immigration reform will withstand another death panels-level onslaught. If a significant number of Republicans are willing to stand up to their base, then it might happen. Oh, wait, I just read that sentence. Well, we'll see.