Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 24, 2007

Immigration reform as art of the possible

"Politics," the 19th- century German statesman Otto von Bismarck reminded us, "is the art of the possible," and it works by crafting balanced compromises between competing political interests.

The issue of immigration reform certainly features its share of competing interests: Businesses want a supply of cheap labor; the 12 million illegal workers already here want to find a nonpunitive way to emerge from the shadows; most everyone wants improved border security; some want to penalize those who are here illegally; and many more want an opportunity to come here.

These and other values have been at loggerheads for years, and the art of politics - in Bismarck's sense - is sorely needed here ("Immigration bill debate begins," May 22).

The compromise proposal recently crafted by the White House and some members of the Senate tries to balance these competing values in a fair way, and, all things considered, is an admirable example of the process working as it should.

The senators involved in the compromise proposal are to be commended. And on this issue - if on no other - President Bush has demonstrated real statesmanship.

But the process has also now entered that other phase - the one where the intolerant extremes from all parts of the political spectrum try to make the ideal the slayer of the better.

Every interest group will complain that the deal should be sweeter, mainly for itself.

Each will want to tilt the legislation in its preferred direction - without much thought to the interests on other sides.

We have to hope all this huffing and puffing is mostly for show and that, in the end, reasonable people will see the virtue in practicing the art of politics, as Bismarck explained it.

Larry DeWitt

Windsor Mills

New bureaucracies a recipe for failure

In "Flawed solution better than none" (Opinion * Commentary, May 22), Sen. John Kyl unwittingly provides one of the strongest arguments against the immigration reform bill.

He writes: "Meanwhile, every day, thousands of illegal immigrants continue to pour across our border, workplace enforcement is a joke, and crime and violence are escalating."

All of that, and more, is certainly true, and this is because every one of the government agencies involved in immigration is either incapable of or unwilling to enforce existing laws effectively.

Yet Mr. Kyl wants to add massive new bureaucratic management requirements - e.g., processing applications, performing background checks and providing tamper-proof IDs for 12 million to 20 million illegals already here and for another 400,000-plus aliens in the "temporary guest-worker program."

Does anyone believe our federal government is up to that?

Just think of the Department of Homeland Security, whose failures created the problems that Mr. Kyl acknowledges.

John F. Billing

Ocean Pines

Governor shows he's no progressive

Many Democrats in Maryland supported Martin O'Malley for governor because they felt he represented the best values of a progressive Maryland.

Should we forgive them for their naivete when the governor continues to support the Intercounty Connector and slot machines and vetoes legislation that would have reduced the prison sentences of mainly black Marylanders who commit nonviolent drug crimes ("O'Malley's veto a big setback to drug reform," May 20)?

Such behavior used to be the domain of the Republican Party and of Southern Democrats.

But continuing in former President Bill Clinton's footsteps by locking up America's poor for drug use is now solidly entrenched as Democratic Party policy.

Ed Boyd

Baltimore

The writer was the Green Party's candidate for governor in 2006.

Stopping services to hurt a candidate?

The message from City Hall seems to be: Don't expect city services if you live in a district served by an elected official who happens to be running for mayor ("Job fair called off over fliers," May 18).

It's a good thing we don't have more contenders vying to serve the people of Baltimore, or City Hall might have to shut down all city services.

Lisa Miller

Baltimore

Mayor not meddling in other campaigns

I expect better from The Sun than the article "Job fair called off over fliers" (May 18).

This article was full of unfounded innuendo and suggestions that Mayor Sheila Dixon is in some way connected to the problems of a struggling mayoral candidate, City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.

Has anyone made a connection or even a credible statement linking Ms. Dixon to any of the nonsense that has hampered Mr. Mitchell's campaign? Absolutely not. So it is galling that the reporter suggests a connection that does not exist.

The mayor seems to be pretty busy doing city business.

Susan Warren

Baltimore

Internet now offers off-track wagering

Kevin George suggests in his column "Betting against horse industry" (Opinion * Commentary, May 16) that horse racing enthusiasts will participate in the new Racetrax video game, offered by the Maryland State Lottery, in lieu of traveling to a real racetrack.

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