The first layer of messiness arises from the fact that a good number of such people ('dreamers") understandably evoke our sympathy. Their educations, the friendships they've formed, any work history they've amassed, have all occurred on US soil.
The notion of bending principle - an illegal alien is an illegal alien - thus got a toehold. The discussion among everybody save for Ann Coulter consequently centered around humane ways to stem the tide of further illegal immigration.
Because Donald Trump started blathering about a "big beautiful wall" early in his campaign (in fact, during one Republican-candidates debate, it "just got a little taller"), his appeal was cemented for a swath of the voting populace that harbored resentment about the aliens' presence, particularly in the workforce, a resentment that was front and center among its public-policy concerns.
Of course, he was elected president, and the conversation between the two ends of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue turned to options for compromising between humane treatment of "dreamers" and otherwise enforcing laws on the books.
There were some parameters around what kind of compromise was going to be possible, notably the Trump administration's intention to rescind DACA.
The bipartisan meeting Trump held with Congressional leaders the other day evoked a telling array of reactions. The above-mentioned Coulter has been in meltdown mode. Sane conservatives saw it as fairly typical behavior for a modern president: going into it with at least the public perception that he had strong views he was going to defend, but quickly demonstrating that "willingness to reach across the aisle" to hammer out something hopefully adequately palatable to everyone.
More about that meeting in a moment.
But on the heels of it came San Francisco federal judge William Alsup's ruling that the administration couldn't rescind DACA. The ruling reads more like an opinion piece in a left-leaning magazine than a legal document. Much of its position hinges on a tweet from Trump. Alsup called the rescinding move "arbitrary and capricious" even though it was based on conclusions reached by Attorney General Sessions.
The fact is that, even though Obama and Trump made moves in exact opposition to each other, they were each executive actions based on what the executive branch had determined about legality.
The administration quickly made it clear that it would take the matter to another court - SCOTUS, if necessary.
But back to the bipartisan meeting. This exchange between Trump and Senator Feinstein is causing unprecedented gnashing of teeth among DJT's populist base:
It gets juicier. That transcript has now been doctored to remove what you see in boldface.
Here's the essence of the matter: The wall is not a top-priority component of a workable (that is, firm yet humane) immigration policy. Enforcement of E-Verify is far more important. If the US doesn't hold the promise of providing a livelihood, folks are going to be far less motivated to come here illegally. Resolving the DACA matter in a way that ensures that there's no resulting chain migration is the next most important item.
There are those who hearken back to Reagan's 1986 granting of amnesty to illegal aliens, and they have a point. Dutch was a giant, but he was still a human being, which means that he got some things wrong as president.
The larger point is that the camel's-nose-inside-the-tent principle applies every time an immutable principle is treated as a malleable item on a wish list. It's the reason North Korea is now a nuclear threat. It's the reason the Supreme Court was able to make up a "right" to homosexual "marriage" out of whole cloth. It's the reason our government subsidizes the manufacture of solar panels.
In short, compromise is way overrated. There's really not much in the realm of public policy that doesn't hinge on principle, and any initial nibbling around the edges of it is going to eventually lead to its getting voraciously devoured.