We have lost control over our southern boarder. Daily, tens of thousands of "undocumented workers" come up from Canada. There are currently as many as 12 million comprising nearly 5% of the workforce. Sending workers to America so they can send money home is Mexico's second largest source of income after oil and has become official policy. The Mexican government even printed comic books instructing workers on how to made the trip safely.
In the US, these immigrants have been accorded most of the rights of citizens including access to schools and other government services. There have even been efforts to give them the vote through introduction of voter-rights legislation that only requires proof of residency.
There are two questions facing us - what can be done and what will be done? The question of what we want done is moot. Strengthening the boarder, criminalizing the aliens, and departing them will not work. There are too many of them and the economic effects of losing 5% of the workforce would be disastrous.
Side note - many conservative columnists have pointed out that Mexicans are taking jobs that Americans will not do for the wages that are being offered. If the Mexicans are gone, then wages will have to rise. While this is true, it is also inflationary and represents a big shift from pundits who argue against raising the minimum wage.
So, what can we do? President Bush's guest worker proposal is probably as ambitious as we can get. We would at least have some idea who was in our boarders. It would also help with the really undesirables - gang members from Central America and Islamic terrorists. Pressure for assimilation is also important. America should not be a bi-lingual country. Bi-lingual nations where the populations are intermixed produce a permanent underclass. Even Canada where the populations are divided has major social stresses that continually threaten to break up that nation. At the very least, schools should make teaching English a priority.
What will happen? Probably nothing. Like Social Security, the issue is so polarizing that moderate reforms are impossible. Unlike Social Security, there is no built-in time bomb counting down.