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July 25, 2013 7:43 am

The Amend Corner: Undesirable immigrants of a different order

Written by Don Amend

As faithful readers of this column may remember — I think there are a couple dozen of you out there, not counting my relatives — I last filled this space with my thoughts on immigration.

Unfortunately, I neglected to comment on a special variety of immigrants, those people who migrate to Wyoming from exotic locales such as Connecticut, Illinois and (dare I say it) California. In the minds of some Wyoming natives, these immigrants are possibly the worst of them all. Many here in Park County go even further, looking askance at people who move here from some other area of Wyoming, and they especially seem to resent immigrants from the county next door, known widely around here as Ninerland.

I must pause here to issue a disclaimer: I am a member of this group, having been hauled here by my parents when I was 3 years old. Worse yet, I came here with a big 9 on my license plates, a number I had followed down the road for more than 30 years. Some of you may want to quit reading here, but bear with me.

Now, there are numerous reasons for this resentment of domestic immigrants. For one thing, they sometimes show up here with a gazillion dollars from selling their house in an expensive city and push our property taxes up by sinking it all into a house in the Big Horn Basin. Worse, sooner or later, they’ll start demanding changes in the way we do things around here and asking us to change our ways just for them.

Take, for example, the millionaire who bought a ranch over by the Black Hills with the idea that he was going to raise domestic deer, not realizing that such domestic livestock isn’t permitted under Wyoming law. He and his friends complained about it for a few years before he finally gave up and moved to Ireland or someplace.

Others fail to check out Wyoming water law only to discover that, while they have a pretty creek running along their property, they more than likely can’t pump water from it to irrigate their petunias or fill their fish pond. Neither do they realize that the pretty deer that wander through their yards will someday really enjoy munching on the lilacs they planted.

Worst of all are the people who come here with ideas that are decidedly incorrect, politically speaking. Criticizing rodeo, hunting or the Republican Party is not a way to get along in good old Wyoming, nor is speaking out in in favor of environmental laws and the Endangered Species Act.

We are a bit flexible, though. We do allow people to cheer for Nebraska, or wear BYU sweatshirts on the day they play the Cowboys, and you don’t really have to be a fan of the Denver Broncos.

Still, this antipathy, though it is a bit quirky, is very real, especially when it comes to politics. I can still remember back in the ’60s (yes, I’m really that old) when every six years or so, the Republicans would be sure to point out that Sen. Gale McGee, our last Democratic senator, was really from Nebraska. More recently, when Democrat Gary Trauner ran for Congress, he was roundly denounced as a carpetbagger in two different campaigns.

Of course, such negativity toward carpetbaggers only goes so far. In one of those elections, Republicans happily elected Jim McBride, who had lived in Wyoming all of two years as a state employee, as state superintendent of public instruction.

This brings us to the present, when we Wyomingites learned that we had a new resident, Liz Cheney, who wants to be elected as one of our senators. She will, naturally, play up her Wyoming connections, most notably her famous father, but it will be interesting to see how Republicans handle her candidacy. I’m sure some will try to rationalize her recent move from Virginia, because that’s what politicians do, while others will challenge her legitimacy as a Wyomingite.

I’m just about out of space now, but I’ll have more to say down the road. Be sure to watch this page.

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