The U.S. House has approved immigration legislation that focuses on the young people known as “Dreamers” and other immigrants with temporary legal status. The bill passed 237-187, with support from U.S. Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska’s 2nd District.

But the measure faces certain defeat in the Senate, and there it will die.

What’s needed, and has been needed for years, is congressional leadership to negotiate and approve a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

That leadership, regardless of which party was in control of Congress, has been sorely lacking on this issue. The result is continued inaction on major immigration challenges, with large numbers of people kept in legal limbo and key policy decisions left up in the air. Politics, rather than serious policy analysis, too often guides congressional rhetoric on immigration. And federal judges wind up making decisions on immigration matters that ought to be resolved through conscientious congressional action.

Such a wide-ranging revamp will involve compromise. That means no side will get everything it wants. The respective party bases likely won’t be happy. The extremes on both sides of the immigration issue probably will complain.

But the immigration issue is so divisive and complex that reasonable compromise is the only responsible course. The issues that demand to be addressed involve legalization details, immigration qualifications, timetables, procedures and border security. Legislation would cover not only the young people known as “Dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as children, but also many other categories of individuals.

Lawmakers need to show resolve to debate and reach agreement on a wide range of considerations. Among them: Ensuring fairness in the way our nation handles immigrants. Helping provide a needed talent pool for business. Providing needed border security. Setting long-term policy for appropriate immigration levels and qualifications. Helping people move their lives out of the shadows.

Conscientious members of Congress need to step forward on this issue, so that immigration policy is guided not by politics and uncompromising attitudes but by the national interest.

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