The character of the American immigration regime has remained remarkably stable over many decades. It changes, to be sure, sometimes granting migrants benefits and at other mo-ments cracking down. However, the broad trend is unmistakable: immigration law and the way it is implemented is increasingly harsh and inhumane. This article argues that this long-term trend is likely to continue — even in the event of comprehensive immigration reform — unless the immigration reform agenda reconciles itself with the structural elements responsible for this trend and imagines ways to counteract them. In particular I urge a reconsideration of the relationship between the immigration reform agenda and the democratic will. Rather than focus on finding ways to quash anti-migrant policies that are responsive to the democratic will, reformers should develop creative, democratically legitimate ways to alter the demands that citizens make.