Friday, December 16, 2005

The immigration solution

For all their wordiness, neither the courts, nor government bodies nor volunteer Minutemen border watchdogs have come up with a workable, fair and widely accepted plan for dealing with the illegal-immigrant dilemma.

The latest idea to be rejected came before federal District Court Judge Edward Lodge in Boise. He tossed out a lawsuit by Canyon County, which alleged that three companies and an individual had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and should pay the county damages for costs of serving illegal immigrants.

The judge's decision was correct. Canyon County, like local government throughout the country, is obliged to render services to residents, some of whom might be illegal immigrants.

However, that begs the question: How much longer can this growing financial problem continue for local government?

Employers who need unskilled workers understandably are opposed to laws that would hold them liable for hiring illegals. Other groups want the border with Mexico virtually sealed off and all illegals rounded up and sent packing—a solution as unworkable as it is odious.

First things first. Since immigration is a federal responsibility, Washington must find a way to provide aid to areas where immigrants have become a burden on local resources and services, just as surely as Washington promises to relieve the Gulf Coast of Katrina's disastrous costs.

Relieved of financial burdens, local government and federal authorities then could devote energies to sensible solutions: enforcement of immigration laws, and creation of a foreign-worker program. These things would acknowledge the U.S. economy's need for manpower and respect the rights of immigrants whose major crime is hoping for a better life in the United States.

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