A setback for immigrants

BY ART CULLEN

The US Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on what was viewed politically as a case about immigration. But it was not. It was a case about whether 27 states have the right to sue over executive orders issued by President Obama to defer deportation to children of immigrants and other undocumented immigrants. This was an argument over executive branch authority in the context of Congress and the states.

It would appear that the appeals court ruling that blocked President Obama’s orders will stand, since the court is headed toward a 4-4 tie vote. On a tie, the lower court ruling prevails. The lines of questioning indicated that the court was breaking down along a conservative-liberal schism. Chief Justice John Roberts is seen as the swing vote in this case, and his questions were termed “aggressive” toward the Obama Administration, according to Lyle Denniston at the highly respected scotusblog.com.

If the Obama Administration is foiled, it may be just as well. His orders could not be considered permanent law, since they expire the day a new chief executive suspends them. Neither President Trump nor President Cruz seemed predisposed to go with the Obama immigration policy.

Executive orders cannot take the place of Congressional action to fix our discombobulated immigration system. Young Latinos hoping to go to college or enroll in the military cannot make any plans as it is, because in 18 months a federale could come to the door to load them on the bus to a Latin America they never knew.

The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would fix the problem. The House, controlled by a group of some 30 zealots who ultimately drove out Speaker John Boehner, refused to go along. The Know-Nothing caucus leader, Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, once described young Latino immigrants as drug runners with thighs the size of cantaloupes. This outfit wants to build a bigger wall, ship out more than 11 million undocumented immigrants and penalize employers in a system dreamed up, seemingly, by George Orwell and Big Brother.

Children are brought to the United States as innocents. They cannot be held criminally liable, locked up in detention centers, shipped to a nation where they have no home. It is absurd and inhumane. We have to find a way to make these residents citizens, and let them make Storm Lake an even better place to live. We need to fill up Buena Vista University with young immigrant scholars. We need to eliminate the underground network of false identities so the Storm Lake Police actually know who they are stopping for a traffic violation. We need to bring good neighbors out of the shadows and into the light of our community’s embrace as neighbors.

It is the responsibility of every person who believes in personal liberty to vote against King in a primary or general election. That’s how we fix this, not through executive orders or lawsuits. President Obama made a choice not to pursue immigration reform when Democrats controlled the House. He chose health care instead. It will be up to his successor, most likely Hillary Clinton, to fashion a permanent fix that allows the illegal to get legal. Obama’s solution was not permanent, and it offered nobody the chance to get legal. It deserves to be set aside. Our young new neighbors need a permanent solution from Congress. Storm Lake needs it. The United States needs it. The confusion has reigned for too long.

Stunning progress

MidAmerican Energy CEO Bill Fehrman made a stunning announcement last week: By 2019 Iowa will draw 85% of its electricity from renewable sources. He said the investor-owned utility will get to 100%. We’re already at 70% renewable, almost all from wind turbines. His comments came as the Des Moines-based company revealed another $3.6 billion investment in 1,000 new turbines at a location yet to be named.

Here’s another stunner: In 2004, the company generated 70% of its power from coal or nuclear plants. That number has been turned on its head. Conventional power sources now are seen as back-ups for when the wind doesn’t blow — which is almost never in Storm Lake or Pomeroy/Fonda, where so many of the turbines turn.

What a remarkable success story with some lessons.

First, requiring renewable energy works, whether at the fuel pump or the electric meter. The Iowa Legislature decades ago required investor-owned utilities to buy at least 2% of their power from renewable sources. The first major wind farm was at Storm Lake in the early 1990s, and the utility industry quickly blew by the portfolio requirement.

Second, renewables are as cheap as conventional sources as efficiencies have improved in quantum leaps. The newest wind turbines are up to three times as powerful as the originals stretching from Alta to Linn Grove.

Third, customers demand it. “Our customers want more renewable energy and we couldn’t agree more,” Fehrman said. If you seed a market in renewables with permanent tax credits coupled with requirements, the market will respond. It has in Iowa, in spades.

We surely would like to see those turbines along Buffalo Ridge. There’s plenty of room.