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As is too often the case in today’s world of ultrapartisan politics, conservatives and liberals are going to extremes in heated debates over the immigration bill now before the Senate.

What needs to happen is some compromise followed by a vote to make a first step toward resolving our nation’s growing illegal immigration problem. The din of extremists on both sides must subside to permit the voices of moderates to be heard.

Everyone agrees our country’s immigration system is broken. The question is how best to fix it. Unfortunately, no one can agree. The proposal now being discussed and dissected, if approved, will be a solid move toward improving the failed system.

There is no doubt that America’s security is threatened by borders that are out of control. We must know who resides within our borders. But most Americans realize this problem cannot be fixed simply by building fences and living in fear. Sen. Edward Kennedy is right in saying we need common-sense solutions that allow for legal immigration and improved security.

Immigrants have made this country what it is today, and immigrants will assist in attaining the accomplishments of tomorrow.

Stirring hysteria about unskilled workers pouring across our borders does nothing to move debate forward. Will some unskilled workers stay or choose to come? Of course. But by coming out of the shadows, they will be able to learn skills and get an education that will permit them to give back to this country.

There are at least 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. They can’t all be deported. They have made lives here, many have spouses or children who are citizens. We are looking to Washington for leadership on this issue.