Thoughts on immigration, Yucca Mountain and Ruvo | NevadaAppeal.com

Thoughts on immigration, Yucca Mountain and Ruvo

Guy W. Farmer
For the Appeal

Last Sunday I wrote about dangerous connections between illegal immigration and two high priority law enforcement issues in Carson City and elsewhere in the Silver State: drugs and gangs. Recent federal immigration raids have confirmed these deadly connections beyond any reasonable doubt.

Although illegal immigration advocates argue that “undocumented workers” merely want to work in the U.S. in order to send money to their families back home, there’s a sinister side to this issue that the advocates don’t want to talk about. In last Sunday’s Appeal column I mentioned that my work as an English/Spanish courtroom interpreter brings me into frequent contact with illegal aliens who are involved in the drug trade and/or gang activity in our area.

After I drafted that column about recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Reno, I read about nationwide raids that resulted in the arrests of more than 1,300 gang-bangers in 23 cities, ranging from 105 arrests in New York down to 26 arrests in Las Vegas and three in Albuquerque. According to ICE, gang member arrests have increased more than 70 percent since last year and the agency has arrested 7,655 people from more than 700 gangs on immigration and criminal violations since an anti-gang crackdown began in 2005. Well, it’s about time the federal government got serious about enforcing our immigration laws.

The Feds rounded up more than 1,300 illegal immigrants in Southern California last month during a two-week sweep of that area, which funnels criminal aliens and drugs into neighboring Nevada. The California raids targeted those who had criminal records, defied federal deportation orders or reentered the U.S. illegally; many of them were suspected street gang members.

And far from the Mexican border, in Minneapolis-St. Paul, ICE agents arrested 34 immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Somalia (of all places) with ties to street gangs. A spokesman for the Twin Cities Metro Gang Strike Force called the immigration raids “a helpful tool” in combating the growth of gangs that deal in guns and illicit drugs. I’d substitute “essential” for “helpful,” but you get the idea.

An Appeal letter-writer last Tuesday objected to the Reno ICE raids and argued that the detainees “are not illegal people, they are undocumented people.” Please! The dictionary definition of illegal is “not authorized by law,” or “unlawful,” which is exactly what those people are. So let’s not have any more hair-splitting between “illegal” and “undocumented.” In Spanish, “da lo mismo” (it’s the same thing).

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Last month I wrote about arrogant U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials who believe that they can defy federal court orders in their unseemly haste to open a huge nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain only 90 miles north of Las Vegas, the nation’s fastest growing city. After asserting that they had the right to ignore a federal court order barring them from using state water to drill test holes at the dump site, they now want to double the size of the so-called “repository” in defiance of our elected representatives and more than 70 percent of Nevada residents. Truly, DOE arrogance knows no bounds.

A couple of weeks ago a high-ranking DOE bureaucrat told the House Budget Committee that his Department wants to expand the nuclear waste dump’s capacity from 77,000 tons of highly toxic nuclear waste to 150,000 tons. And furthermore, Yucca Mountain Project Director Ward Sproat told Congress that DOE would need more than $77 billion (that’s “b” for billion) to complete the project, a 35-percent increase over the $57.5 billion that DOE projected in 2001 – an illustrative example of how DOE is spending your hard-earned federal tax dollars. Can you say “fleecing of America?”

To their credit, Nevada officials immediately fired back at Sproat. “If they think they are going to get more money for an irresponsible plan to ship nuclear waste across the country and into Nevada’s backyard, they’re dreaming,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Associated Press. And Nevada Nuclear Projects Chief Bob Loux branded as “invalid and likely illegal” an environmental study outlining the super-sizing proposal. According to the AP, the study’s release came as DOE ramps-up efforts to meet a June 30, 2008, deadline for submission of an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to operate the huge toxic dump in a state that doesn’t generate any nuclear waste.

Originally, DOE planned to open the Yucca Mountain dump by 1998 but the original timetable has been slowed by lawsuits, quality control concerns and funding shortfalls, thanks to Sen. Reid and Nevada’s bipartisan congressional delegation. As a result, DOE has pushed back the target opening date to 2017, or later. With luck, however, it will never open.

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CONGRATULATIONS to Governor and Mrs. Gibbons for painting over that tasteless “Larry Ruvo Stateroom” sign at the Governor’s Mansion. Although the sign is still visible, it is now much less obtrusive although an underlying question remains: Why would the state name a public building after a wealthy Las Vegas liquor distributor?

• Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.