When it comes to the 8 to 12 million undocumented individuals currently in the US, there is only one consensus that has seemingly been reached in the aftermath of the election, and that is that a mass deportation will not work. The second consensus that has been reached, namely among Republicans, is that the self-deportation fix promoted by candidate Romney will also not work.
On almost every other issue there is wide disagreement regarding the next steps. Conservatives state that they fear that legalization will result in a new wave of undocumented immigrants who will rush in to replace the newly legalized. They claim this is what happened following the so-called Reagan Amnesty. In order to ensure that this does not happen, this side advocates a painful and lengthy process towards legalization. This process would include large fines, payment of all back taxes for prior work performed in the US, and the mandate that they immediately learn English. The plan would also require them to either leave the US and apply for a visa at a US Embassy or wait in the US for years (10 or more) before they could be eligible for a Green Card.
Those on the other side would like to see this population legalized as quickly as possible. Proponents of this view point to the contributions already made by undocumented workers, which includes trillions of dollars paid into federal and state tax rolls and over 1 trillion dollars accumulated thus far in the Social Security Trust Fund. Moreover, organized labor is eager to incorporate low wage earners into the rolls of unions. They see these workers as the best opportunity for expansion in a generation. Additionally, many businesses prefer to have these workers legalized quickly so they can put potential nightmare scenarios involving I-9 violations behind them.
Finally, realtors and other service providers welcome a fast path to legalization because it will likely lead to more home purchases, consumer purchases, and other related benefits as individuals feel free to come out from the shadows.
There is a lot of room for compromise between the sides on this issue. The key will be providing conservatives with something they can point to so that they can claim that undocumented immigrants were prevented from jumping the line, while at the same time not creating such a draconian solution that would defeat the benefits to the economy and social fabric of America resulting from the incorporation of these hardworking individuals into our society.