Nebraska Politics

An Open Letter to Congressman Fortenberry

This an open letter to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry written by Seeing Red Guest Contributor George E. Wolf. George is a Professor Emeritus of the English Department at UNL, book review editor at Western American Literature, and a longtime Lincoln activist.



July 6, 2018

Dear Congressman Fortenberry:

Thank you for sending me a soundtrack of your June 21st discussion with Colby Mach on KLIN of our government’s then current immigration policy and for your “Fort Report” on the same subject, released the following day. It’s always important to know what the person representing me in the US House of Representatives is thinking.

Given the impulsive behavior of President Trump, the leader of the political party you belong to and vote with and whose name is noticeably absent from your statements, as well as the unpredictability of the Republican House majority to which you belong, I suspect I’m as aware as you are of how many things have changed since the 21st and 22nd of June and how many more will likely have changed by the time you’re reading this letter. But as of this writing, several of your statements about the tragedies that continue to unfold on our southern border require comment.

Now that the so-called House “compromise” bill on immigration (a compromise among House Republicans, not between Republicans and Democrats) has been defeated, a bill you voted for although almost as many Republicans who voted with you voted against it, so has any attempt by House Republicans to do any of the things you claimed the bill would do:

like indulging President Trump, the leader of your party, in building what he refers to with fetishtic fervor as his “beautiful wall”;

like reuniting the “under 3,000” children separated from their parents at the border as the result of a policy of splitting families that President Trump, the leader of your party, instigated, then, under massive public pressure, rescinded, and the callous consequences of which his administration has yet to rectify, although it is now under court order to do so before the end of this month;

like terminating infant internment camps, euphemistically termed “tender age shelters” (so much for George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”);

like halting the Trump administration’s defiance of US and International laws governing asylum;

like ending the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy authorizing indefinite family detentions.

Moreover, with the defeat of the bill you supported, at this moment the only protection that DACA recipients, including a number of people in our Congressional District, can rely on is Judge John Bates’s ruling this April against the “arbitrary and capricious” termination of the DACA program by President Trump, the leader of your party.
As of today, July 6th, in the wake of the Republican “compromise” bill’s defeat, you and your party have failed to deliver on any of the assurances you claimed for the bill.

What misery for thousands of families—families like your own—your silence, inaction, and enabling continue to intensify throughout our nation, Congressman Fortenberry. What an extreme example of cruelty, under the guise of “the demands of justice and safety of America,” you continue to endorse and display for your constituents, especially children. What gaudy vestments of hypocrisy you shamelessly model as a proponent of “the preservation of traditional family values.”

As the House of Representative’s summer recess approaches, I trust you’ve begun scheduling Town Hall assemblies throughout the First District at which you will listen attentively to the vital concerns of your constituents on immigration policy, your role—or failure—in shaping it, and on other substantial matters you need to open your ears to.


George E. Wolf