It's unlikely that either party wanted the mid-terms to be about immigration but their combined failure to act on the issue has now blown up in their faces.

The anger over the Arizona law has moved immigration right off the back-burner where politicians like to park it.

Neither party has really taken a lead on the issue for fear of setting off the right-wing noise machine that doomed earlier efforts.

But politicians have got to get beyond that fear. They were elected to legislate after all.

And activists have got to get beyond their idealism. Anything that emerges from the political process will clearly be ugly and no bill can ever going to please everyone.

Democratic Senators Schumer, Reid and Menedez have made a solid first step to reform with a proposal that tries to include Republican ideas.

For instance, they want to see a national ID card, a proposal which has already drawn considerable ire from the ACLU.

But, as Angela Kelley of the told The Hill today, “What I like about the outline is that Democrats are not trying to hide the ball or soft-pedal the tough decisions. It seems a very sincere effort to get the conversation started. This is a serious effort to get Republicans to the table.”

Kelley is the vice president of immigration policy at the liberal organization, Center for American Progress.

And she's right - Democrats have to get Republicans to the table to have any hope of getting anything passed.

But then again, Republicans must know in their heart of hearts that their party is doomed if they don't engage the Hispanic population.

Maybe this year will see the emergence of realpolitik on immigration.