The Indianapolis Star's Dan Carpenter tries to push about every guilt button there is to make us understand what bad people we are for resenting illegal immigration (based, he says, "less on a purist reverence for the rule of law than on peculiarities of the people breaking it" -- so take that, all you racist nativists):
A left-leaning friend called the other day to pose the pointed question, "Since when did 'amnesty' become a four-letter word?"
Certainly not when the state of Indiana extended it to delinquent taxpayers a while back as a (pretty successful) means of collecting revenue that otherwise would have come with a lot of trouble or not at all.
When applied, however, to occupants of American soil who failed to go through proper channels to get here, but would have if they could have and stand ready to do so now, amnesty is anathema.
There are plenty of differences between amnesty for illegal immigrants and tax dodgers (and Vietnam-era draft dodgers, which Carpenter also brings up), but let's just take the big one of consequences. As Carpenter acknowledges, tax amnesty was successful in its goal of a cash infusion for the state, with no downside in encouraging future lawbreaking. The amnesty had a stick as well as the carrot, in the form of dramatically higher interest and penalties for those not taking advantage of the amnesty.
We already know the consequences of immigration amnesty, because we've done that before, too. Slightly fewer than 3 million illegal immigrants were given amnesty in 1986, and now we have 10 or 12 million. Do the math of giving amnesty to 10 or 12 million. We will have a de facto open border, and that will change this country fundamentally, in ways we are already beginning to see.