May 09, 2007

In immigration policy the perfect is also the enemy of the good

Sir, you write about “the mess over US immigration policy” May 9, and, as usually happens, most of the mess is created by those who want to court their followers by showing off that they want it all and perfect for them, when perfect, as always, is the enemy of the good.

Instead of what you imply I say for instance that if the price for getting some order back into immigration policies, before dirt hits the fan, is to have the migrants pay some punitive fees for their permits, so be it, that is still much better than having them paying the much more expensive punitive costs of not having permits. Let them put the price on the table and, after we haggle a bit, we will find the ways and means to help the migrants pay those fees.

That they must go home for extended intervals? Well we could argue about the length and the timings of such home-goings but it is not really a preposterous thing to ask of temporary work programs to include clauses that could keep their hearts warm to their homelands and lessening the risks of that heart-drain that could make their return much more difficult.

Sir, we sincerely appreciate your good intentions but please, don’t embrace us too much, and help us instead to get as many workable pieces of a solution formalized as fast as possible, before the problems get out of hand. Already having 12 million flesh and blood earthlings called illegal aliens is no minor problem.