What’s looming next in the immigration debate is a battle of wills pitting a hard-knuckled grouping in the House with a more fragile looking coalition in the Senate.
To add to the uncertainty is the fact of midterm elections in November. It might well suit some House members to plant their flag in opposition to reform for the simple reason that saying no is easier than actually working out a workable solution to the immigration mess.
Saying no might be a tried and tested tactic in parts of Northern Ireland, and it might indeed serve some shorter-sighted reelection plans in some congressional districts.
But Americans deserve a little more in the way of political sophistication. It is not beyond the abilities of the present Congress to work out a deal on immigration that satisfies both those who see security as the paramount issue and those that want to see a pragmatic approach to legalization that takes into account the very real needs of the U.S. economy.
That there is an immigration mess out there is beyond argument. That America should control its borders is beyond argument.
At the same time, the practicality, or even the remote possibility, of deporting as many as 12 million people seems beyond the realm of any truly rational debate.
In that debate, President Bush’s role and influence could prove to be decisive. We urge the president’s interest and support for a reform compromise that goes beyond a limited guest-worker program.
But first, debate should be joined. The sooner it begins the better.