Nelson's fence plan deserves consideration

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

On the face of it, it has all the makings of a giant government make-work boondoggle.

Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson, joined by two Republican senators, from Alabama and Oklahoma, is proposing a 1,900-mile fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States.

Make that 3,800 miles, since it would be a double layered security fence.

The law also would increase the number of Border Patrol agents by 3,000 each year from 2006 through 2011, promote coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, increase the number of investigative personnel and immigration attorneys and judges, add 20 new detention facilities and 10,000 new beds for illegal immigrants arrested at the border, require all employers to verify that their workers are authorized to work in the United States, and eliminate tax breaks currently going to employers of illegal workers.

Nelson says he's had it with guest worker programs and amnesty, and we need to secure our borders before making things easier for illegal workers already here.

According to the March 2005 Current Population Survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, Nelson has reason to be concerned.

The survey indicates that nearly 5 percent of the civilian labor force is made up of unauthorized migrants.

If Red Willow County follows that trend, that means there are more than 350 illegals working here.

We doubt there are that many. But we understand why they come. They fill jobs many native workers don't want, and send their money home to support their families.

About 7.2 million unauthorized migrants were employed in the United States in March 205, accounting for about 4.9 percent of the civilian labor force.

They comprised a large number of all workers in certain occupations, including 24 percent of farm workers, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction and 12 percent in food preparation.

We have empathy with those who seek to work hard at undesirable jobs in order to feed their families back home.

But before we do more for them, we need to put reasonable restrictions on their numbers. And, they need to be here legally.

Nelson's fence plan deserves serious consideration.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: