OUR VIEW: Reform will require compassion, compromise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Immigration reform is a complex, emotionally charged issue that has all sides demanding change but seemingly unwilling to sit down and discuss rationally the finer points of the numerous arguments.

Today, protesters in major cities across the United States will take to the streets seeking reform. Most of these protesters are immigrants who are seeking a stop to the deportation of immigrants who are here illegally but who have U.S.-born children. In many of these cases, the children are left in the country &045; sometimes becoming wards of the state &045; while the parents are deported. This is because anyone born on U.S. soil has the right to U.S. citizenship.

This facet of the immigration debate shows one of the most troubling aspects of our current immigration policy: the government tearing apart families and placing children in foster care.

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On one hand, opponents of this policy say that families are unfairly being separated and children being placed into circumstances that are worse than from where their parents came.

On the other hand, proponents say that immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally often use their children as shields from deportation.

Both sides are correct, which means the only solution is a compromise. It is only one example of how complex the issue of immigration is.

What we know is that illegal immigrants often take jobs that American workers desperately need. But we also know that corporate America has facilitated illegal immigration &045; at times to the point of providing transportation from border entry points to job sites. Furthermore, we also know that some jobs given to immigrants are in substandard conditions where employers struggle to find workers here who will take them.

Immigration policy should not be an all-or-nothing approach. It needs reason and compassion. President Bush has tried unsuccessfully to bring about common sense reform. His failure to produce such legislation is not of his shortcomings but the shortcomings of Congress &045; both Republicans and Democrats who fear the issue during elections.

We hope that President Bush will use his remaining time in office to focus on this issue. As the former governor of a border state and an ally to corporate America, he understands well the intricacies of this debate. And in this situation, being a lame-duck president with nothing to lose will serve him well.

We also hope that others &045; elected officials and civic and business leaders &045; will come together over common ground and accept compromise as the first steps toward a growing problem.

In the end, we must remember that we are talking about human lives &045; men, women and children who want nothing more than what we as a country advertise every day: the American dream.

It is our duty to protect that dream while at the same time remaining conscious of the fact that the decisions

made on this issue &045; more so than probably any other domestic policy issue &045; will impact lives in ways we cannot fully understand.