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Our Opinion: No one wins with defeat of immigration reform bill

And so the conservatives have “won” – haranguing senators not to let an immigration reform bill come to a vote and essentially killing the issue until President Bush leaves office.

A reform bill that was imperfect but far better than the status quo has been hammered out of existence by xenophobes, talk radio hosts and those whose voices and shouts of “no” are more developed than their reasoning.

The Senate on Thursday failed to adopt a procedural motion to conclude debate on the bill. That effectively kills the issue for this year. And it is unlikely it will be resurrected in 2008 as Congress turns its attention to political races.

This “victory” for the naysayers is so pointless, they cannot even explain what they “won.” If not this bill, then what? With the Senate bill dead, they have no suggestion on what to do about the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country or about any of the other issues related to immigration.

Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who broke from his conservative roots to help craft the bipartisan Senate bill, said that, “The result of our inaction regrettably means the status quo will continue, as thousands of illegal immigrants continue pouring across our borders every day and millions already here continue receiving silent amnesty.”

Kyl identified one of several ironies in the bill’s defeat. Those who say they are opposed to amnesty are allowing those here now to receive de facto amnesty indefinitely – without fines, security and background checks and other requirements that were in the Senate bill.

And by killing the bill now – when a Republican president is in office – it is quite possible a more “liberal” bill will gain traction in 2009, when a Democrat may be in the White House and Democrats may have larger majorities in Congress.

The guest-worker provision also was a target. But with the bill dead, those who want to deport all illegal immigrants now working in the United States must step forward with their own plan to fill those jobs.

Maybe it is better the immigration bill went down quickly on a procedural vote, instead of being saddled with numerous ineffective and harmful amendments and then passed. Maybe no bill is better than a bad bill.

Gov. Janet Napolitano traveled to Washington, D.C., this week in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade senators to pass a good law. “If they’re going to eat the pain of doing an immigration bill, they might as well pass a good one,” she said.

Instead, they avoided the issue.

As columnist Linda Chavez notes, with the immigration reform bill dead, “Our borders will be less secure, not more.” (See column, Page 2B)

The Senate vote was not a victory for anyone. It’s an admission of defeat.

Linda Chavez: Immigration bill’s failure will come to haunt GOP

Tucson Citizen Editorial Board blog: Why immigration reform’s foes are disconnected from reality.

Read another editorial: A step forward for health care

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