The debate was supposed to be over the question of what to do with workers already here. Yet the real point of contention turned out to be a White House proposal to import an additional 400,000 temporary "guest workers" per year using so-called Y visas, which would be renewable every few years. Conservatives want to make sure that temporary doesn't become permanent and that workers go home when the time on their visa is up. Liberals are afraid workers would be exploited and then tossed aside with no protection, much less a shot at putting down roots and pursuing the American Dream.
That's a discussion worth having, but as the full Senate argues over the compromise in the weeks to come, it should keep in mind that there's a much larger issue to be resolved first: the fate of the illegal immigrants already here.
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Settle fate of undocumented workers first
In Fate of illegal immigrants here should be first (5.22.07), columnist Ruben Navarette, Jr. makes the case that immigration reform should first settle the fate of the nation's undocumented immigrants before deciding on any new waves of "guest workers".