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Dear Editor,

The razor-thin defeat of Sen. Spencer Abraham casts a pall over the results of the 2000 elections for those who favor an enlightened approach to business immigration. What is equally ominous, though perhaps not as obvious, is the extent to which the Democratic challenge to the Florida results, however meritorious it might be, politicizes the electoral process and diminshes the very idea of national consensus on which our system of government depends. Truely, this notion, which is under severe challenge today, is the essential lubricant of democracy. Once even the most fundamental decisions are subject to dispute, then the only political reality becomes partisan interest and factional advantage however that is defined. If a presidential election (and I speak as a strong Gore supporter) can be hauled into the courts to change the result, in what context will it be credible in the future to speak of what America needs? Once this notion is lost, once the very idea of speaking in national terms is seen as the threadbare wisdom of a naive and bygone era, it is no longer going to be possible to argue, as I have done in the past and as we all will have to do in the future, that no enduring immigration policy in the business context can be easily crafted or long endure unless the overarching interest of the nation's economy is the prime consideration. You cannot invoke unchecked partisanship to achieve certain aims (which I share) in the presidential arena and then criticize business, labor, or the INS for being narrowly focused in the immigration policy arena. Once the precedent for tunnel vision to get what we want has been set, it is too late to turn back.

Gary Endelman