Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ben Nelson's Position On Immigration Is A Joke. . . Literally

by Kyle Michaelis
I've never shied away from criticizing Ben Nelson's continued failure to recognize how important it is that the United States do something to address and relieve the plight of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in our country.

In 2006, I grew to have a begruding respect for his "Border Security First" campaign theme because he was right that the political exigencies of the day weren't going to allow for any true comprehensive reform of our nation's immigration policy. But, as soon as the Democratic Party assumed control of both Houses of Congress - with a Republican President desperate for some action that might give him at least one issue on which his presidency might one day be considered something more than a complete disaster - Nelson's most persuasive argument for not supporting comprehensive reform quickly lost its credibility and became an inevitable source of contention.

I won't deny that Nelson has a great fallback line declaring the current proposal before Congress "Amnesty with a Roadtrip." But, shame on him for debasing this important debate that affects millions of lives by using these cheap, Republican-inspired scare-tactics to suggest that amnesty is some great evil against the American public.

Of course, it's pathetic how so many lawmakers fumble about in vain efforts to prove the current plan does not include amnesty, but it's downright unconsciounable for Nelson to exploit their cowardice, playing games with hot button buzz words rather than dealing with the issue in a fair, honest and reasonable manner.

Nelson makes some valid points arguing for a different course than what we currently see before Congress, but he undermines them completely by engaging in this absurdist anti-"amnesty" campaign. The absolute worst example of this is when Nelson justified his position by declaring to the Omaha World-Herald:
"I plan to vote against the bill. . . It's amnesty any way you look at it. Amnesty in the dictionary is a sort of forgiveness. There is a forgiveness here."
How can Ben Nelson dare to call himself a Democrat, let alone a Christian, making foolish arguments like that - as if forgiveness were not a virtue and compassion were some sort of sin?

Like it or not, the current proposal mandates stiff penalties of thousands and thousands of dollars. If that's not tough enough for Nelson, that's one thing. But, there's no logical limit to his lock'em up and throw away the key (toss'em out and build a higher wall) philosophy. Nelson is contributing to an American society so ruled by fear that it can no longer even find the capacity to forgive. For that, he deserves the harshest rebuke.

I'm sorry, but these sorts of comments are beneath Ben Nelson, and they're beneath the people of Nebraska. I can respect Nelson for not doing a total flip-flop and forgetting his campaign promises post-election. But, he owes his country and his constituents better than representing his position in such silly and insulting fashion.

What's funny is that, despite my long-standing advocacy for comprehensive reform, I can't even say I'd support the proposal currently before Congress. Though we can't - as a matter of common sense and national security - afford to wait years before recognizing those in our midst hiding silently in the shadows, there are legitimate reasons to question and to challenge the proposed guest worker program that could create a permanent under-class without any opportunity to truly partake in the American dream.

Regardless of these principled concerns, though, this debate deserves better than what we're seeing from Nelson and company, whose manipulation of over-hyped rhetoric calls into question the integrity of our democracy with their childish adherence to A-word hysterics.

As for the headline of this little article, Ben Nelson's position on immigration has most definitely been a joke up to this point. Nor am I the only one who seems to think so. I suspect people will get a kick out of this clip from ABC's late night Jimmy Kimmel Live that puts Nelson's rhetoric in the silly light that it deserves.

Of course, it's the Kimmel show....so we're not talking about comedic gold. In fact, some people might not even find the clip funny at all - a sentiment I understand completely when it comes to Nelson's running gag on immigration policy.

What we've seen from Nelson so far - with all his talk of "amnesty" - most certainly is a joke, but - no - there's not a damn thing funny about it.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how is paying a fine amnesty? I've paid court fines, didn't feel like amnesty to me.

6/01/2007  
Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

Good post, Kyle. Nelson's comments certainly deserve, as you said, the harshest possible rebuke.

But I'm especially glad you pointed out the moral shortcomings of the proposed "guest worker proposal". I guess this is what liberals get for spending so much time defending immigration as an economic necessity ("doing the work that Americans don't want to do"). We're not going to solve this problem until we realize that any economy built upon a foundation of cheap human labor isn't inevitable, it's *immoral*.

6/01/2007  
Anonymous TedK said...

Nelson's position shouldn't be a surprise. His first priority is to do what's best for himself and his political career. This plays to the majority of Nebraskans' views on immigration, so Nelson takes this position. About the only time I've seen him take a stand possibly opposite the majority of Nebraskans was his rejection of Arctic drilling. Now I'm also against this immigration bill because I think it is unworkable (who wants to pay the fines and also have to go back to Mexico for a time; won't happen) and creates a permanent underclass of low income workers that will further depress wages. The canard that these immigrants takes jobs no one else wants is laughable. I can remember when meat packers paid much better salaries and had no problem filling jobs with local workers. The pragmatic solution is to increase border security (not sure exactly how to do this effectively) and set up a quicker, easier road to citizenship for illegals who are here. However our country's puritanical streak will be highly resistant to allowing someone who broke the law to get what is viewed as a free pass.

6/01/2007  
Blogger Lisa Hannah said...

I see a lot of the same conflict here as in most people, including myself. I don't like anything that looks like amnesty. But I also recognize catching them all and sending them back where they came from is unrealistic. I worry any consessions will result in an even bigger flood over the borders as people try to take advantage of any easier way to get into the country than doing the it the proper way (like my husband had to do). But at the same time I really don't know what the right balance is to all this. Any decision will have a consequence, and I don't think any of us will REALLY know what that is until it's happening.

I DO have a very strong belief that very tight borders are a necessity for national security. I just don't know the answers. I hope that Nelson is struggling with finding that answer, and that that struggle is what we see. Either that, or I'm just talking incoherently here!

6/01/2007  

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