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Immigration reform: Balancing act

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Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The great immigration reform balancing act is upon us once again. Maintaining that balance will be the key to anything even remotely resembling acceptable.

On Monday, an unlikely bipartisan group of eight senators — including liberal Democrats Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin and conservative Republicans Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio — unveiled an expansive compromise plan that strikes the necessary balance between more stringent border security and necessarily stringent rules to give the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the United States the opportunity to become legal.

And despite the rhetoric from both sides, and given the climate in Washington and the nation, these goals cannot and should not be attempted on a mutually exclusive basis. For failure would be automatic.

President Obama outlined his plan on Tuesday. And while it appears that his and the senators' blueprints are pretty much the same, there's significant worry — even among Democrats — that Mr. Obama somehow could gum up the works by demanding that a pathway to legal status and/or citizenship be given a higher priority. It raises the specter of the failed 1986 amnesty that, sans immediate and stricter enforcement measures, enticed millions more illegals to enter the country.

Indeed, there are valid economic concerns about the imbalance between costs and benefits of any legalization plan. And those must be thoroughly vetted and extrapolated. But even those effects can be ameliorated with the kind of concomitant and comprehensive border security required to end illegal immigration's vicious cycle.

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