The 1986 legislation combined amnesty for three million illegal immigrants with a promise of tougher enforcement, particularly in the workplace. But the law did not recognize the need for future immigration to meet the demands of a growing economy, and the new enforcement never materialized. The result? Twenty years later, illegal immigration is unabated. Why? Because while immigrants continue to be drawn to the jobs created by our economy, they have no legal way to enter the country.
What this history teaches is that the only way to control immigration is with a combination package--securing the border, enforcing the law in the workplace and creating legal channels for workers to enter the country.
What conservatives have to recognize, with their "new" enforcement first policy, is that the US needs workers. We have an expanding economy, and we are creating jobs fairly quickly. We need people for those jobs. It's a good article, worth reading carefully. In Las Vegas alone, our unemployment rate is at a level that if you can show up for work and not be drunk or high, you're hired. (And, by the way, that, too, is an answer to those who say "there are no jobs" -- a ticket to Vegas is subsidized on most airlines, and busfare can be even cheaper. Look it up.)
UPDATE: Evidently, Michelle Malkin still needs reminding of these basic truths. I'd steer her here, as well.