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PD Editorial: Getting our House in order on immigration

So what's not to like about the immigration reform bill that emerged from the Senate late last week? Plenty. But it's the curse of politics that if it were any more likeable, it wouldn't have been approved.

The most disagreeable aspects have to do with the bill's premise that any reform measure, including the long-needed path to citizenship, has to include higher walls, more border patrols and more high-tech surveillance.

The legislation includes $40 billion over the next decade in added border security, including 20,000 more agents, money for 24-hour drone patrols and 700 miles of more fencing.

Those living in the border states understand better than anyone that additional border security is not the solution. The problem is so complex and the border is so long that no amount of money will ever completely cut off the flow of illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the net migration flow from Mexico has virtually stopped and may have reversed, given credence to arguments that border security, as it exists, is adequate.

But the "border surge" was necessary to get the Republican support the bill required. Thus the bill passed comfortably Thursday with a bipartisan vote of 68-32.

It's the closest that Congress has come in years to achieving a breakthrough on this vital issue. So why isn't the nation celebrating? Because hope of progress is still threatened by partisanship.

While 12 Republicans broke rank and supported the bill in the Senate — as much out of a desire to mend fences with Latino voters as build them — there appears to be no such movement toward bipartisanship in the House.

At risk is the most sensible part of this legislation — a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States. Some are calling it amnesty. If so, it's the kind that comes loaded with financial penalties, waiting periods and other restrictions that would bring people out of the dark and onto a lighted path toward citizenship.

It's not a quick journey. Residents would have to wait more than a decade before receiving full citizenship. And in the meantime, they would have to stay out of trouble with the law while working, paying taxes, contributing to Social Security and Medicare and making other important contributions to the nation's economy.

That's why the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded that the Senate bill could reduce national deficits by $175billion over the first 10 years and by more than $700 billion in the following decade.

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