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Immigration bill: Good legislation, bad timing

T he central problem with U.S. immigration policy is that there is no policy.

The state of Arizona responded to that void by adopting its own law and the reverberations have yet to stop.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced an immigration reform bill. The good news is that it covers what needs to be done — increased border security, tougher penalties for those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and a path to citizenship for illegals who have been living and working here for years.

A bill with similar aims failed — twice — in the Bush Administration. Liberals thought some of the enforcement
provisions were too strict; conservatives objected to what they called an “amnesty” provision. No bill will ever emerge unless there is compromise from those on the far end of both parties. The good news is that Menendez is trying to forge such a compromise. But the good news really doesn’t go all that far.

The senator introduced his bill at a time when it is guaranteed to get no consideration. The Senate has recessed for the November election. Senators will return after the election, but major legislation is seldom acted on in a “lame duck” session. A new Senate will reconvene in January, which will be the proper time for Menendez to re-introduce his bill. We hope he does so.

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