The most noteworthy aspect of my proposal is that it is non-partisan. Which is to say, Senator Clinton or some other attractive Democrat could adopt it easily and instantly get solidly to the right of President Bush and establishment Republicans on a major national security issue.
It would hold most of the Left because enforcement is targeted against business and because there would be no mass-deportation effort — meaning Democrats will figure that, no matter how tough the pre-election rhetoric is, once they make gains in congress and elect a Democrat president, they will be able to revisit a “path to citizenship” for these millions of potential Democrat voters (and consolidate their hold on power).
It would be popular on the Right, and thus pry away many independents and Reagan Democrats the Republicans need for electoral success, because (a) border security is popular and is the kind of national security measure Democrats generally like (i.e., a robust demonstration of government in action that doesn’t affirmatively provoke most of the “international community”), (b) anything that discourages illegal immigration will be popular with middle class workers, and (c) deporting felons is both popular and cost-free (usually, alien-felons are automatically deportable as a matter of law), so you get to look tough-minded, again, without really offending anyone.
The President and the Republican leadership have left Republicans VERY vulnerable here.