In his end-of-the-year news conference, the President claimed he would be “persistent” on those parts of his agenda which have not yet been realized. This was particularly true of immigration, as the President spoke eloquently of the DREAM Act, the plan to allow undocumented students brought to America as children to obtain a path to citizenship through higher education or military service.

But if Congress couldn’t pass the DREAM Act with its strongly Democratic makeup, the prospects for next year, with a Republican House and a less Democratic Senate, are dim.

Congressional Republicans said in interviews Thursday that their concerns about the measure remain strong, and both House and Senate GOP leaders said they would fight any attempt to legalize any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country before the administration secured the nation’s southern border with Mexico.

“It is pointless to talk about any new immigration bills that grant amnesty until we secure the border, since such bills will only encourage more illegal immigration,” incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) said in a statement.

In an interview, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the House immigration subcommittee, accused Obama of playing politics with immigration and toying with Latino voters.

“It is extraordinarily unlikely that any version of comprehensive immigration reform that includes amnesty will go through the House of Representatives,” he said.

The more the President talks about this, the more he actually has a second-term agenda item that he can sell in his re-election campaign. That’s the proper context for this. Because immigration reform is DOA for the next two years.

What could trip up the Administration is this continuation of large deportations. The President has clearly gotten no credit for it from Republicans, as they maintain a “secure the border” fantasy that resembles the scenario of Zeno’s Paradoxof the Arrow. Politicians must secure the border by half, and then half, and then half, never actually “securing the border,” which is an ineffable concept to begin with. This ensures that immigration reform can never be passed, because of the outstanding need to “secure the border.” And yet the deportations anger and frustrate the Latino community, the intended audience for the continued exhortations for immigration reform.

That’s not a winning situation for the White House. They can talk about a more humane approach to immigration, or they can act on it.