When a tentative compromise on immigration reform emerged after the last election we were pleasantly surprised.
Sure, Republicans seemed transparently motivated by the flight of Hispanic voters to the Democratic column. But that's OK.
The real surprise was seeing Republicans and Democrats agreeing on anything of substance.
Having looked more closely at the plan, however, we wonder how this reform is any more of a long-term solution than the famous, or infamous, "amnesty" reform of 1986.
Under the proposed plan, illegal immigrants here now would get "probationary legal status" and then figuratively go to the "back of the line" of people awaiting citizenship.
The reform also depends on the U.S. government certifying that our borders are secure, something we have been unable to do despite spending $187 billion over the past 25 years, erecting 700 miles of fencing and increasing the Border Patrol by 10 fold. Even with all that, the Great Recession has done the most to slow the flow of illegal immigrants.
Ordering people to the back of the line sounds fair. A line-cutter from India should be required to wait behind the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen waiting to move here legally.
But, realistically, so many people are waiting in the world's largest and most impoverished countries that "the line" is decades in length.
Until they reach the front of that Escher-like line, the approximately 11 million immigrants who have come here illegally will stay and work, which is why they came in the first place. But without the constant pressure of imminent arrest.
The downsides of non-citizenship are considerable: no federal benefits, no right to vote, inability to obtain a passport or run for office.
But they are far less painful than going to the back of an actual line in their home country.
There are significant up sides to immigration.
Immigrants are younger than most Americans, they tend to adapt quickly and are more likely to start new businesses.
One study found 25 percent of high-tech companies worth more than $1 million in annual sales were started by immigrants, and they are more likely than other Americans to file patents.
Perhaps this immigration reform is a good idea whose time has come . . . again.
But we see no reason to think we won't be talking about another amnesty program 20 years from now for another group of illegal immigrants.
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not likely anytime soon
Talk about a blast from the past, but the John Birch Society is rebuilding itself in Maine using its opposition to one-world government as a key message.
Older readers will remember the Society from its heyday (the late 1950s and '60s) and its passionate opposition to communism. It lost visibility when state-sponsored communism collapsed in the late 1980s.
Today the group is rallying around opposition to "Agenda 21," a voluntary sustainable development initiative sponsored by the United Nations.
"I think our message has found fertile ground in Maine," Anna Morkeski, the Society's field organizer in Maine, told the Portland Press Herald in January.
There are more than 190 countries in the world, and they all seem so riven by differences that the proposition of one-world government seems, well, farfetched.
Consider, for instance, that there are 24 countries in Africa and they face 113 separate militia, guerrilla, separatist and anarchic movements. In Asia, 15 countries face 96 such movements.
These countries are having trouble just ruling themselves, let alone joining all the world's nations in singing "Kumbaya."
The wealthiest nation in the world with the most elite and advanced military in the world can't even impose an effective one-country government on Afghanistan.
One world government?
Maybe the threat of a lethal meteor that could destroy us all could . . .
Ah . . .