IN THE VENOMOUS debate over illegal immigration, there is a point of agreement between President Obama and some of his would-be Republican rivals, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. They’d like to see undocumented immigrants “get to the back of the line” for citizenship. Unfortunately, that convergence of views distorts rather than illuminates the debate.
Granted, Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have different ideas of how the “line” would work. The president doesn’t seem inclined to force unauthorized immigrants to leave the country before applying for legal status. Mr. Romney thinks it would be nice if they somehow “self deported,” then lined up back home for legal re-entry to America. In the end, the distinction is meaningless — because there is no line, not even a relevant visa category, for millions of immigrants.
Here’s why. A large majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants are unskilled or low-skilled Mexicans. Many of them have no relatives over age 18 who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents in possession of green cards.