I know that Congress seems to waste a lot of time posturing, campaigning, enjoying the privileges of elected office, and making speeches for the Congressional Record that no one reads or hears. Yet some work does get done. Money is allocated. Pork goes home.

Incumbents get re-elected. Despite all this, I do believe that the system works and fortified by this belief, I full expected that so-called immigration reform (or illegal immigration reform as CNN’s Lou Dobbs insists) would get a comprehensive airing by our nation’s legislators from which a law would emerge.

Didn’t happen – and probably won’t happen this year and maybe next and the next after that.

I’m tempted to blame a do-nothing Congress or a Congress heading for November elections, or a Congress paralyzed by the enormity of the war in Iraq, or the war on terror, or an unpopular Administration, or a national debt so overwhelming that it is beyond comprehension. But no! Congress was elected to represent the people and the people have freaked out about immigration. The people can no longer think clearly on the subject because they are so angry, afraid, confused, misinformed, judgmental, emotional and frozen in their attitudes.

Case in point – the KPBS/Channel 10/ Envision forum on immigration Thursday night. These forums are usually cool, often quiet, thoughtful discussions on issues important to the community with consensus as a goal. But this one was different. One hundred folks were in the audience including a dozen distinguished “panelists” and most were ready to agitate, provoke, defend, and argue their point. Compromise seemed impossible. The issues were huge – from concerns about the United States becoming Mexico to the value of illegal immigrant labor in this nation. If this is a mini-microcosm of what goes on in Congress, then it’s clear why the House and the Senate have not put a bill on the president’s desk.

GLORIA PENNER

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