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Enforcement is one of several components to be considered in crafting the nation’s immigration overhaul.

‘Achievable good for all’

Immigration overhaul can’t fall victim to factionalism

In the current immigration reform debate, some groups want to emphasize securing our national borders, others want to emphasize creating a pathway for citizenship, while others want to emphasize establishing a worker visa program to help meet our future labor needs. All of these are achievable as parts of a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform, but none is likely achievable as a standalone bill.

The problem, of course, is that some who advocate a certain aspect of immigration reform are reluctant to embrace other parts of it. Consequently, a piecemeal approach – which some are advocating – is almost certainly doomed to failure. To miss this opportunity for reform would mean leaving our borders less secure, leaving a population of more than 10 million unauthorized immigrants to live in the shadows of our society and leaving unresolved for the future an orderly way in which to control effectively the temporary influx of necessary low-skilled labor.

The great majority of the millions of unauthorized immigrants in our country are not involved in criminal activity or seeking welfare benefits. They came – most of them more than 10 years ago – to find good jobs to provide for themselves and their families. At the time, there was no reasonable worker visa program available for them. Asking prospective foreign workers to wait a decade or more to meet their current pressing needs when jobs were readily available here was really a failure of our government to deal with the economic realities of the past two decades. We cannot allow this state of affairs to continue.

The time for comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform is now. We cannot allow this unique opportunity to be squandered – not for security reasons, not for practical law enforcement reasons and certainly not for humanitarian reasons. While no one set of solutions will make everyone happy, there is still much that can be achieved to promote the common good of our country. We cannot allow the unachievable ideals of particular groups to be the enemy of an achievable good for us all.

Frederick W. Everett is assistant to the bishop and director for the Office of Family Life for the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.