Ballot Box: A Conversation With Sen. Ensign

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Sen. John Ensign, one of the first Republican to spend time in Iowa before the 2012 campaign, talks with the Yonder about immigration and farm programs.


As far as farm subsidies, you have to remember,  I come from a state that gets no farm subsidies, even for the farmers that we have. We don’t grow any of the crops that get that, so I’ve voted against farm bills in the past because they don’t benefit Nevadans and I represent Nevada.

Daily Yonder: (Joking) Just make flights cheaper from Omaha to Las Vegas.

Senator Ensign: (Laughing) Well, we have a new airline that at least makes it reasonable for people to come Las Vegas called Allegiant Air. I encourage people to check it out.

 La Prensa: In 2007 you opposed the immigration reform bill. Your state is one with more immigrants. What are your thoughts on that issue for the Hispanic community?

Senator Ensign: That bill itself was actually never voted on. That bill was pulled from the floor. What I believe should have happened with that bill, if we would have taken the so-called amnesty, the green card, out of the bill so we could have proven that we were securing the borders, that we were sanctioning employers that were not following the law, and that the program was working, that for instance people who were here were getting signed up — we were doing background checks, eliminating people who were criminals. A certain percentage are going to be criminals. We want them out of the country.

And then we also want to encourage people, for instance, with work visas to give them more time in this country that they learn English, they learn it well, that they learn what it means to be an American, that they have a job with health insurance. Reward them for things that are good for America that are also good for the immigrants.

In six, seven, eight years down the road, once we’ve proven all those things work, then revisit the issue of green cards and citizenships and things like that.

The problem is in 1986 all of those reforms were promised when they gave amnesty but they never did the reforms. So let’s prove to the American people that the reforms are working first and then we can talk about the green-card issue and things like that down the road.

Daily Yonder: Senator, do you think the United States is less safe today than it was on January 20 of this year and what evidence would you have to support your answer?

Senator Ensign: I believe that certainly we’ve put ourselves in a much more difficult position to keep us safe because we’ve taken away some of the tools that potentially could be used. Enhanced interrogation techniques without a doubt have kept us safer. We have stopped several terrorist attacks against the United States using enhanced interrogation techniques. We no longer have those tools available. So if we get a situation to prevent the next 9/11 and now we don’t have those, could it potentially? It’s potentially less safe because we don’t have the tools that kept us safer in the past.