Jackson Hole, WY News

Last week I wrote about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that are removing around five people a month from Jackson Hole. That is being driven by a small minority of anti-immigration extremists who have prevented passage of immigration reforms favored by supermajorities of Americans and even supermajorities in Congress.

It is hard to believe that the 2017 executive order that empowers ICE to remove our neighbors is constitutional. It allows removal of anyone charged with but not convicted of a crime. Inconceivably for a democratic nation of laws, the executive order permits ICE agents to remove anyone they believe “might be a threat to public safety.” There is no presumption of innocence and little due process.

When ICE agents show up in Teton County they do it in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles. They have brought illegal “warrants” not signed by judges that have no force of law. Those warrants are a fraud. Immigration lawyers tell us that no one is required to talk with ICE or give it any information.

That is not only unjust enforcement of laws we have willfully ignored for years, it is selective enforcement of laws most Americans don’t want. The only reason these laws still exist is that Congress has failed to implement the will of a vast majority of the American people.

Nothing short of deporting all the undocumented immigrants and their children will satisfy the anti-immigrant fringe. They have not told us how our economy will fill the millions of jobs these people do. Deporting all these people is not the position of the vast majority of Americans, so why are we letting this small group of extremists hold us hostage by shutting down the government? On Dec. 19 the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to keep the government open while it negotiated spending on border security. Hardliners convinced President Trump to reject the deal. Government will not work until we learn to spurn the hardliners from both parties and put an end to government shutdowns.

As Congress considers immigration reform America should put a hold on deportations for all but convicted felons. The last immigration reform bill was passed almost 30 years ago, led by Wyoming’s own Sen. Alan Simpson. Another moderate Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander, from Tennessee, has proposed comprehensive immigration reform as a way to resolve this issue.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas border country, tells us there is no crisis in his border towns. In fact, illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were a few years ago.

“Building a 30-foot-high concrete structure from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” he said.

Hurd’s congressional district covers over 850 miles of our border with Mexico, by far more than any other district.

Our nation has always been committed to the idea of a statute of limitations. For all but the most serious crimes, prosecutors will not go after you if enough time has passed. So why do we consider a patriotic, hardworking 25-year-old a criminal for having been brought across the border by his or her parents when he or she was 7 years old? A July 2018 poll found that 84 percent support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, have completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime.

We can do more in Jackson Hole to be fair to immigrant families, students and workers. Issuing a county identification to people who need it would help law enforcement know who it is dealing with when people cannot get a driver’s license. Repealing a provision excluding noncitizens from eligibility for Hathaway scholarships would enable all students to further their education.

In our Wyoming Legislature is a terribly written bill filed as House Bill 151. It would try to force counties and towns to do almost anything ICE asks, even if the request is questionably legal and as Congress considers reform of outdated immigration law. This is one of many bills in our state Legislature that works to overrule local control.

We could work to make sure that workers are not exploited because of their status and that workers compensation applies to everyone. Alien residents pay into workers compensation, but the state of Wyoming denies their claims based on lack of citizenship. Colorado, Texas and Idaho allow alien residents to be covered by workers compensation. Wyoming should as well.

I respect all the working people who keep our society running every day. They should be treated equally and fairly, no matter where they were born.

Paul Hansen’s paternal grandparents emigrated in 1910 from Denmark and Sweden. Twelve of his mom’s ancestors emigrated on the Mayflower in 1620. Columns are solely the opinion of their authors. Contact him via columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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(2) comments

Dave Valley

You're right. It's way past time we addressed the status of our illegal immigrant population. Good luck making that happen. I think we should give green cards to anyone who has been here at least 15 years and isn't a burden to society. The way things are going, I'll won't hold my breath waiting.

"U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas border country"

....is probably not the best spokesperson for border security. His district is overrun with people who are here illegally or have family and friends who are here illegally. It's like asking Jews about the Israeli West Bank barrier wall. Those on the southern border will defend their self interests and deny a problem. Of course, border security isn't just about the past. It's about the unknowns of the future. 911 caught everyone off guard. You plan for the worst future on the border, not the past.

"Issuing a county identification to people who need it would help law enforcement know who it is dealing with when people cannot get a driver’s license."

Many immigrants get ID's/drivers licenses from California, Nevada, or Utah, etc. This is a common form of ID in Teton County. Additionally, we have the Mexican consulate up here almost every year issuing passports/ID's to immigrants. They have ID. They don't all have drivers licenses.

"Hathaway scholarships "

Yep, that should be available to any immigrant who has moved through our schools and is otherwise eligible.

"We could work to make sure that workers are not exploited." AND "They should be treated equally and fairly."

Putting aside the illegal immigrants, we bring in immigrants on a visa to exploit them. It's our economic model.

Employers charge Jackson prices. They should pay Jackson wages. Here is a short list of employers who hire H-2B visa workers and underpay them"

Snake River Lodge
Mercado LLC
Four Corners Masonry
Mills Concrete
Three Amigos Masonry
Mountain Lion Masonry
Wyoming Landscape Maintenance
Horizon Landscape Services, LLC
Trees Inc.
Scenic Scapes
Shooting Star
Mountainscapes, Inc
Snake River Sporting Club
Boreal Property Management, Inc
3 Creek Ranch Golf Club
Scenic Scapes LLC
Virginian Lodge
Pony Express
Kudar Motel
Snow King Hotel
Snake River Sporting Club
Hotel Terra
CBV Partners
Elk Country Motels
Trapper Corp (Lexington)
Intermountain Roofing, Inc.

(J-1 visa workers are popular and the worst paid in our community - and cheaper to hire than Americans)

Lanny Lammers

Every Illegal Needs deporyed asap & if you don't like it move with them!

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