When Bill Clinton was running for President he candidly admitted that he knew little about the immigration issues that stir up such political passion in states like California--but he said he would look to Californians to help him focus his thinking on the subject.
Last week, in an interview with The Times, the President addressed immigration issues head-on and not only displayed a good learning curve on that complex topic but showed that he is listening to the right people about it.
Rather than echoing the restrictionist position unfortunately espoused earlier in the week by California Gov. Pete Wilson, Clinton said he wants to strike a balance--looking for ways to deter illegal immigration while leaving the door open to legal immigrants. But, unless the federal government gets better control of our borders and otherwise deals with the negative effects of illegal immigration, Clinton rightly warns that "the genie out of the bottle will be passion to shut off legal immigration."
It was also encouraging to note that some of the specific policy proposals the Clinton Administration is considering represent the middle ground in the immigration debate. Clinton said he will consider having the government issue counterfeit-proof identity cards to U.S. workers; would not deny emergency medical care to illegal immigrants or citizenship to their U.S.-born children; will seek better enforcement of existing laws against illegal immigration before trying to reinvent the immigration-reform wheel.