Take a look at this PoliPundit post and you'll get a pretty good summary. Be sure to read the comments, too. They capsulize pretty well the debate within conservatism over the immigration issue.
Fred Barnes thinks the modern Know-Nothings like PoliPundit have lost the debate, and that Republican opinion has already swung toward President Bush's enforcement + guest workers approach. As I posted a couple of weeks ago, there's lots of evidence to support that view. what I find surprising is that many of the commenters at PoliPundit seem to regard anyone who supports a guest worker program to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only). That's how certain they are that their view represents the majority within the party.
This debate has taken place in American politics before, also among conservatives. As I posted earlier:
Many in the anti-guest worker bloc bristle when they are compared with the Know-Nothings, but the uncomfortable similarities are there. Notably, the Know-Nothings were out of business after only a couple of election cycles, and in 1860 a new national party called the Republicans elected to the presidency a man named Lincoln, who was a fierce critic of the Know-Nothings:
I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.In this blogger's opinion, we need to control the borders, normalize those who are here already, and have some faith in American culture and the English language to assimilate the newcomers. It is true that we run a great risk if we continue to allow unchecked illlegal immigration, because that seriously endangers assmilation. Is is toward such open, lawless immigration that the anger should be directed; it is there that we'll find the most important key to solving the problem. But if enough Republicans continue to insist that their agreement to a program for controlling the borders is conditioned on the total absence of a guest worker program, then we are allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good and we may well see the Democrats controlling Congress. What kind of immigration policy will we have then?