Republican candidate Jim Nussle says if he’s elected governor, he’ll use state taxdollars to start deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants caught in Iowa.

“The concern I think we should all have in Iowa is that we want to be a welcoming state, one that is inviting new people to come here legally but I believe most Iowans believe that we should not be encouraging illegal aliens to come here,” Nussle says. “They should not be coming here for work or illegal activity and if they do come here, we need to send them back.”

Some Iowa county sheriffs have had to release illegals immigrants caught in Iowa because federal immigration officials have said they don’t have the resources to pick them up. Nussle, an eastern Iowa congressman who’s chairman of the House Budget Committee, says he wants to give local law enforcement the authority to take illegal immigrants caught in Iowa to deportation centers in either Omaha, Chicago or Kansas City. “In addition to that, we are going to ask Washington for the authority to treat local law enforcement…to act as feds in this situation and be able to use that authority to get them to that deportation center,” Nussle says. “That vote (in congress) may come up as early as the end of this week.”

Nussle also says he’d take steps, as govenror, to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving welfare assistance or paying cheaper “in-state” college tuition. Nussle says his immigration reform plan also includes measures that would combat fraud and abuse” in Iowa elections. For example, Nussle would have all ballots printed in English and forbid foreign-language ballots in Iowa. “One of the qualifications of citizenship is understanding English,” Nussle says. “We really believe that it’s important for us to respect that at the ballot box, especially.” Officials say there are no foreign-language ballots being printed in Iowa for this fall’s election.

Nussle says it’s time to require proof of citizenship to register to vote and require voters to show a photo I-D to ensure illegal immigrants are not voting. “Poll workers are not authorized to ask (for) any of that information,” Nussle says. “Certainly, we have anectdotal information that this kind of voter fraud is occuring across the country and in Iowa.” Nussle says his Democratic opponent, Chet Culver — who is currently Iowa’s Secretary of State, is “standing in the way” of clean elections by opposing the photo ID requirement.

Culver’s campaign issued a statement, saying Nussle was “hustling” Iowans by promising a crack-down on illegal immigrants in Iowa but voting against proposals in congress that would penalize businesses which hire illegals. Culver’s statement said Nussle had “turned a blind eye to big businesses hiring illegal immigrants for cheap…labor.” Culver says if he’s elected governor, he’ll deny state tax breaks and state economic development grants to businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants. Culver’s campaign did not respond to the voting-related issues brought up by Nussle.