The following editorial was recently in the Dallas Morning News:

It's clear from the presidential candidates' tactical evasion that neither plans to give illegal immigration the priority attention it deserves early in the next administration. Whatever other pressing issues are vying for the candidates' time, there's no excuse for their neglect of comprehensive immigration reform.

We're encouraged by the efforts of a bipartisan task force in Washington, organized by the Migration Policy Institute, to keep immigration reform high on the nation's political agenda — whether the candidates like it or not.

Doris Meissner, the task force's director and former head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Bill Clinton, told us last week that the current trend toward tougher workplace enforcement and tighter border security is causing America's business community to appreciate the urgency of comprehensive reform.

Businesses of all kinds and sizes get pinched when their source of cheap labor dries up. It is clear that America's population is aging while its need for blue-collar labor is growing beyond the means of our population to fill the gap. Meissner's group presents a viable plan to address that need through the tightly regulated, legal flow of immigrant labor.

The idea is to establish flexible immigration limits that grow or shrink according to the ebb and flow of employers' requirements. She proposes creating a standing commission on immigration and labor markets, which would perform the same function for immigration that the Federal Reserve does for monetary policy. The plan would abolish the work-permitting system that has kept a single, inflexible limit in place for 16 years and would de-politicize the procedure by which Congress approves changes to visa quotas.

This is just one of several strong proposals that could help make comprehensive reform more politically palatable. We hope the next president musters the courage to give it the attention it deserves.


Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.