House Speaker John Boehner (AP)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) looks sad. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Amnesty, Eugene Robinson writes today, gets a bad rap for condoning lawbreaking, but there’s really no better option to deal with illegal immigrants who are already able to hide from the law and eke out a living on the margins. “There are others who genuinely oppose any sort of amnesty for the undocumented. I find this view mystifying because it has so little to do with the real world. Once you acknowledge that we’re not going to round up 11 million people and ship them home, and that they’re not going to self-deport, what do you do? Pretend all these people don’t exist?”  In Robinson’s reckoning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would essentially have to fall on his sword to save the country and his party by accepting some form of amnesty, which would possibly be followed by a right-wing coup against him as speaker. But it’s win-win for Boehner, Robinson says: He’d be able to leave the most frustrating job in Washington and get to retire in Tuscany or whatever he would rather be doing, and where his tan would look more appropriate.  (Note: that last bit is PostScript’s, not Mr. Robinson’s.)

Readers grapple with several issues in the comments, including this question: If the Senate-passed immigration bill is unacceptable because it allows for amnesty. what other options are there here in the real world?

anon53 says the laws need to focus on changing the businesses that hire illegal workers. Let the immigrants stay if they want, but make it harder for them to displace legal workers:

The answer is obvious – implement everything else that is in the Senate bill other than the amnesty. A strong e-verify program would take care of the problem. The jobs would go back to the Americans that want them, once the cheap labor has been mandated out of them, and wages rise. A targeted visa program will let new immigrants come in as *we* need them, for those jobs “that Americans will not do.” And if those here illegally wish to continue to live here, we can welcome the sales taxes etc. that they generate. Even the border control measures can serve as a stimulus measure!

I cannot disagree more with the conservatives on most issues, but this is the one issue where I am with them.

cliffc1 says the “amnesty” is still far too high a bar for most illegal workers to reach anyhow:

Everyone profits from the Senate bill except for the illegal who may have once believed he might gain even a scrap, The bill will drive them ever deeper into the shadows. Tell someone who is working for minimum wage trying to feed his family that they now must pay two thousand in fines, federal income taxes yet being denied all the benefits from that taxation.

mkobren11 says above and beyond the wins for Democrats and Boehner on the immigration issue, Boehner’s sacrifice would do a lot of good:

An attempted Tea Party coup would be in the best interests of the country. Boehner could enter into a national unity government with the Democrats. Boehner would get to keep his job (at least until the next election) in return for a more businesslike House where the powers that be have an incentive to compromise. There is no requirement in the Constitution that the Speakership is to be controlled solely by the majority party.

And jdrd58 thinks that would at least jump us out of our current legislative gridlock into something that works or is more entertaining:

“Shortly after the House passed the Senate immigration bill, irate tea-party conservatives could depose Boehner from his post.”–Robinson

You know, that would probably be a very good thing. Get a Speaker who is competent, or, so off-the-wall that the Democrats win back the House in 2014. Maybe Louie Gohmert would be the next Speaker and seal the House changeover. Let’s do it, John Boehner! I’d be the first to call you a good American for doing something the country needs rather than NOT doing something because of right-wing idiots.

PostScript is now taking bets on how many months until House speaker becomes a job no legal American is willing to do.