The election of a new Congress last November gave rise to hopes that a sensible approach to immigration reform would now be possible. Given the support of many Democrats, in addition to President Bush, for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, it seemed likely that comprehensive legislation was possible. However, that optimism did not take into account the the growth of xenophobic sentiment in the country.
In the last Congress, compromise on the issue of immigration reform was simply impossible. A draconian bill passed by the House of Representatives that sought to build a wall around the country and deport more than 10 million illegals could not be reconciled with a more rational Senate bill.
But instead of a new push to pass something that resembled last year's Senate version, what has been put forward is an awkward compromise that attempts to bridge the gap between the bills. The result is something that is better than the existing mess — which ignores economic realities, as well as border security — but doesn't completely satisfy either concern.
It remains doubtful that the demagoguery on illegals that is increasingly heard on both sides of the aisle will allow this bill to pass both houses. But whether it does or not, the need for Americans to speak up on behalf of the rights of immigrants and against those who would — in the false name of security — divert us from the real peril of Islamist terror, will not be lessened.