Ben Nelson's Iron Curtainby Kyle Michaelis
The problem is that many of these proposals, including the most recent by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, too closely resemble a "final solution" that fundamentally betray the American character and our national heritage.
Quite simply, I am appalled by Nelson's contribution to this important debate. His "Border Security Act of 2005", co-sponsored by Republican Senators "Crazy" Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is so extremist in its call for a police-state along the southern border that it sickens and dismays me as an American and a Nelson supporter.
The "key elements" of this bill include:
Southwest border Security: Provides for the construction of a border fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, employs additional border patrol agents, and coordinates aerial surveillance with the Department of Defense.
Federal, State, Local Law Enforcement: Provides federal enforcement resources in the form of additional personnel and equipment to support border security, establishes a new Assistant Attorney General position within the U.S. Department of Justice and adds more U.S. attorneys and immigration judges, provides for additional worksite investigators, and increases the number of detention facilities by nearly 50%. Clarifies that state and local law enforcement officers have the authority to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law, and requires that aliens who don’t show up for their immigration hearings or who are under final orders of removal are listed in the National Crime Information System database, making it easier for state and local law enforcement officers to locate them.
Penalties and Enforcement: Increases penalties for illegal aliens who willfully fail to depart from the United States and for illegal aliens who make fraudulent statements on identification documents. Makes alien criminal gang members inadmissible and deportable.
Honestly, most of these are reasonable and probably necessary changes. But the proposed border fence (described in the Omaha World-Herald as "two parallel fences with a road corridor to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border") is so abhorrent an idea that it renders the entire plan objectionable, if not outright despicable.
While I appreciate Nelson's pragmatic choice to secure the border before addressing the larger issues of immigration reform (such as enforcement on employers and the handling of illegal immigrants already in the country), this plan's raw extremism clearly demonstrates the danger of not taking a more comprehensive approach. It reaches far beyond the limits of conscience in true draconian fashion, foolishly seeking to wipe-out a "problem" comprised of human beings seeking a better life. As such, they (and we, as a country) deserve more humane, multi-faceted, and dare I say American legislation.
For more on the still-developing immigration issue, including the perspectives of those seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Nelson in 2006, read this World-Herald article. Though unclear from the article, it appears Nelson's uncharacteristic bit of fanaticism - his iron curtain - would be rivaled only by Don Stenberg, from whom such a radically bad idea would be far more expected.