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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Political follies leave immigration a mess

On a good day, politics can fuel a movement by lawmakers to get the people's work done. It's become excruciatingly obvious Congress hasn't seen many good days lately.

In particular, the failure to reach a compromise on immigration reform and get past an enormous partisan blockade can best be described as a colossal dysfunction.

The fuel ran dry when the partisan sniping the useless background noise in so many public debates these days torpedoed the prospects for a compromise bill.

Like any compromise, the deal was far from perfect. But at least it nudged our immigration policy closer toward reality. It had accommodations for the more established undocumented workers and laid out a rational "guest worker" pathway that, for many, could lead to citizenship.

Instead, Americans, and the immigrant community, become the real losers here we're left with the status quo. And if Congress can agree on anything, it's that the current immigration system is an unmitigated mess, and has been for decades.

So millions of illegal immigrants will continue to flounder in a schizophrenic economic system, one that holds out job opportunities but no real hope for a legal status. Our schools and other public services will continue to accommodate them, without the added resources that legal guest workers could provide through registration and reasonable taxation.

Perhaps our politicians have a finger out to gauge the direction of public opinion before proceeding further. Perhaps they will come back at it. Who knows? Clearly, this divisive issue still drives thousands to demonstrate in our streets; it's not going away.

In the meantime, they've done absolutely nothing to solve the problem. Now that's something to think about at the polls this election year.