Whenever there’s talk of a “Republican civil war,” the first thing I want to know is whether a given dispute is over values and politics, or instead over strategy and tactics. If it’s the latter, it’s an argument, not a “war.”

That would seem to be the case with immigration policy these days, as Greg Sargent explained yesterday: the disagreement among House Republicans over the linkage of border “relief” to deportation of DREAMers is mostly about timing:

Republican leaders don’t want to include any measure against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the current border plan because the politics are terrible. That would entail responding to a crisis involving migrating minors not just by expediting deportations (which the current GOP bill would do), but also by calling for still more deportations from the interior. But the GOP leadership’s position is only that they don’t want any anti-DACA language in their current response to the crisis. The GOP position writ large is still that we should deport all the DREAMers, block Obama from any further executive action to ease deportations, and not act in any way to legalize the 11 million.

Remember: The House GOP already voted last year to end DACA. Meanwhile, Republicans are preparing to cast any future Obama action to ease deportations, no matter what it is, as out-of-control lawlessness and executive overreach, which is functionally equivalent to calling for maximum deportations from the interior. And they are heaping outright derision on the mere suggestion by Democrats that perhaps this crisis should be an occasion to revisit broader reform — yet another reminder that they won’t act to legalize the 11 million under any circumstances. So how, exactly, is this collection of positions, broadly speaking, any different from those of Cruz, King, Sessions, et. al.?

Good question, and one that should be asked on other topics where intraparty differences aren’t that significant once you examine them.

And now that House GOP leaders are in the process of modifying their border bill to include language barring the president from expanding DACA, the differences between “responsible” and “extremist” Republicans are shrinking every minute.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.