As with most of Washington's titanic battles, many of the casualties from the immigration debacle were unintended victims.
Among those with the poor luck to be in the line of fire were Maryland's shrinking crab-processing industry and the mostly Mexican women who make up its seasonal work force.
Congress should remedy this injustice as soon as possible by establishing a permanent program that allows such workers visas to come for a few months each year and then go home, without making them and their employers sweat through the 11th-hour theatrics of annual renewals.
The sweeping immigration reform measure that collapsed in the Senate last month included such a program and would have raised the ceiling on temporary visas for seasonal workers from 66,000 to 100,000.
Critics say that Americans would be happy to take these jobs if they paid more than the minimum wage. Maybe, and there's no doubt that crab-picking is skilled labor. But the industry worries about competition from foreign crab processors who are paying much less than minimum wage, and those fears are valid.
The watermen's era in Maryland is in its twilight thanks to seafood shortages caused by pollution as well as a change in culture.
The American women, particularly black women and their daughters, who for many years did most of the professional crab-picking have moved on. The older women have mostly died, and the younger women - better educated and more mobile than earlier generations - have different aspirations.
For the Mexican women, though, wages in the crab house pay well enough to buy a better lifestyle for their families when they go back home.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski twice has been able to win reprieves for the temporary visa program, which is now scheduled to expire Sept. 30. She's determined to do it again, but her colleagues ought to join her in backing a more lasting, humane solution.