But we don’t mind argument; we don’t mind debate and we certainly don’t mind the two distinct ends of the immigration issue, that of border security and relief for the undocumented, being tended to in the final deal.
What we are wary about, however, is the immigration issue being used by some for nothing more than raw, partisan political advantage.
Over the next month or so, eyes will be focused particularly on the Senate, an institution rightly renowned for its ability to pull rabbits from deep hats.
Increasingly, they will also be honing in on President Bush.
The president’s California speech – in which he came out in favor of a Senate bill and against the idea of mass deportation – will be warmly welcomed by reform backers.
The president has not yet laid out in clear, unambiguous words what he means by an amnesty and how this might differ from, say, the McCain/Kennedy concept of earned legalization.
We await that clarification with deep interest.
Beyond any Senate deal, meanwhile, there will be the House/Senate conference phase. And that will be a tough one. It could easily extend right up to the end of this Congress and the eve of mid-term elections in November.
While the attention of reform advocates is, understandably, focused primarily on Senate members right now, any Senate deal will fall into oblivion if House negotiators balk in conference.
House members favoring reform, such as New York’s Joe Crowley, who held his own forum on the issue this week, will have to work hard to convince their more skeptical colleagues that immigration reform and enhanced border security can live together for the betterment of the nation.