Thursday, December 21, 2006

Seattle Times editorial: "In bright lights: Broken immigration policies"

In bright lights: Broken immigration policies

The theater of last week's high-profile immigration raids across six states shows in bright lights just how broken is our federal immigration policy.

Strong demand for labor and wink-and-nod enforcement of immigration law have spawned an underground economy that is peopled by as many as 12 million workers without legal authority to be in the United States.

Federal agents rounded up 1,300 employees of Swift & Co., a meat-processing company that insists it followed immigration law by checking papers as required. The arrests also uncovered several cases of identity theft.

Many of the workers are heading for deportation; many families are left without their breadwinners; Republicans and Democrats alike are calling foul.

If anything, the raids perhaps will prod Congress to take up stalled immigration reform and, finally, do something about it. The challenge of this problem has moved far beyond the black-and-white debate of "what about illegal don't you understand?"

Sounds pithy, but it is really nonsense, given the realities of our nation's reliance on illegal-immigrant labor.

The opportunity is there, especially with Democrats taking control of the House . A year ago, the GOP-controlled House passed a Draconian enforcement-only bill that all but denied the importance of these illegal workers to the nation's economy. It was shortsighted and mean-spirited.

The Senate did better, passing a more-balanced law that created a guest-worker program and provided a means for young people without legal status to earn it by succeeding in college.

Of course, those who want only closed borders and mass deportations will attempt to delay any meaningful compromises. But they must be ignored — for the sake of the economy, border security and humanity.

More massive roundups like those last week are not the solution. Leadership is.

For a link to the Seattle Times editorial click HERE.

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