I suppose there’s no point in writing in advance about “comprehensive immigration reform,” since by the time this magazine reaches your hands the point may be moot.  The Gang of Eight may well have tossed Congress the perfect bipartisan plan, and President Obama may have run down Pennsylvania Avenue, pen in hand and surrounded by women Marines, to sign it on the steps of the Capitol.  Shortly after, Rubio, McCain, Schumer, and Durbin will cry “huzzah!” and head over to The Pig for a beer dinner, the drones will take to the skies over Nogales, and businesses big and small will start installing the latest E-Verify software.  Problem solved!

Except . . . fast-forward the DVR a few more weeks.  Jésus and Consuela saw the announcement on Univisión, declaring that they would no longer have to live in fear, always looking over their shoulder at every turn.  They couldn’t recall whether Obama’s comforting term (“Lawful Prospective Immigrant”) or the Gang of Eight’s curt one (“Probationary Legal Status”) had won out in the end.  They ignored the part about how long the “path to citizenship” would be (10 years? 12? 18?).  Yes, there was some relief when they heard that papers could not be filed until “enforcement” (some sort of action, however meaningless) began to be, well, enforced on the border.  What caught their attention were the words fine and back taxes.

Turns out Jésus and Consuela, like one fifth of the “11 million undocumented workers,” live below the poverty line.  Confined as they have been to those “jobs Americans won’t do,” they could only hope that some day they might reach the undocumented families’ median income of $36,000 per year.

In other words, they can’t afford fines and back taxes.

What happens if they register as Probationary Prospective Lawful Immigrants, provide the required “biometric information,” and pass criminal-background checks, but cannot afford to pay a $4,000 or $6,000 or $10,000 fine, let alone the attorney fees necessary to guide the process?

Of course, the reasoning goes, after registering, Jésus will be able to get a better job, one that Americans will do, and that will provide the necessary cash to make the difference.  The trouble is, those jobs do not exist, especially in areas with high concentrations of illegal aliens.  And, if history is any guide, our newfound resolve to police the borders is not likely to be much more effective than our former resolve, and that means more and more illegals lining up to take Jésus’s former landscaping or meat-cutting or house-framing or fry-cooking position, should he aim higher in the job market.

Will employers be willing to look the other way and flout the law when it comes to hiring illegal aliens?  Aren’t they doing so right now?

Ah, but the difference is, we’re going to have a much tighter grasp on employers, what with lots more E-Verify and all of the thousands of new immigration officials and hundreds of immigration judges we plan to hire—with magic money that appears out of nowhere in a political landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see, from one fiscal cliff to the next.

Given the choice of registering with the U.S. government and hoping for the best, while making the task of executing their own deportation significantly lighter (should the mood strike the right federal official) and jeopardizing any hope of getting paid under the table ever again, versus remaining in the shadows, staying on the jobs Americans won’t do, birthing anchor babies, and enjoying free healthcare and education benefits, what are the “11 million undocumented workers” likely to choose?

Grant for a moment that the 11 million figure is accurate (although it is a low-ball number).  Assume that the Orwellian drones and the beefed-up border patrol (paid with magic money) are able to secure the southern border, a prospect as laughable for you to read as it is for me to write.  Even if a whopping 50 percent of illegals decided to comply with new regulations, that still means 5.5 million of them bleeding our schools and healthcare systems dry.

Then again, it is foolish to assume that such trivialities as fees and taxes will ever stand between a person born in a wretched country and his inalienable human right to live off the confiscated monies of the U.S. taxpayer.  If fees and back taxes are a part of the “comprehensive immigration reform” that passes, waiving them will be a campaign item for the next victorious Democratic presidential nominee.

On the other hand, if there are no fees or taxes to be paid, then it would seem that the price of breaking U.S. immigration law, milking taxpayer-funded social services, and helping to destroy the U.S. job market for millions of lower- and middle-class citizens is to fill out some papers.

In other words, the only way to see true immigration reform is to put a stake through America’s liberal bleeding bipartisan heart.