THE Senate has passed an immigration bill, and now all the great and good are urging the Republican-led House to pass it, too.
It should decline.
That bill would substantially increase immigration into the United States, especially the number of low-skilled immigrants — something that Americans don't want, that serves no pressing economic need, and that will make assimilation harder.
The bill's guest-worker programs subvert civic ideals by creating a large class of people who work here but can't be full participants in American life.
Its provisions against illegal immigration are weak — the Congressional Budget Office's most optimistic take suggests the bill would reduce future levels by only half — and there is reason to think they will be set aside, as previous enforcement promises have been.
The status quo, flawed as it is, is preferable to passing this bill.
What would be better, though, would be for Congress to pass an alternative.
Like the current bill, an alternative would include provisions to enforce the laws against illegal immigration.
But it could differ in refusing to simply throw money at the border, and it could take the problem of people who come to the country legally and then overstay their visas more seriously.
Also like the current bill, the alternative would include an amnesty for undocumented immigrants — but a less sweeping one, applying only to people whose illegal stay began while they were children and who have otherwise followed the law.
This amnesty shares the assumption of the so-called Dream Act proposed in several recent Congresses: These people didn't do anything wrong and have no other home.
It would go further than the Dream Act, though, because it wouldn't require young people to go to college or join the military to get permanent-residency rights.
The path to citizenship for these young people should be more rapid than the one in the Senate bill, which stretches out the process for no purpose other than to be punitive.
The danger of a more sweeping amnesty is that it would encourage new illegal entrants by signaling that they will eventually be legalized, too.
Congress should therefore hold off on that step while making sure that enforcement is up and running — and that the political forces that are supportive of amnesty have an incentive to make enforcement work rather than subvert it.
Limited amnesty would be a good-faith gesture to show that the promise of future legalization isn't merely words.