Thursday, May 05, 2011

IMMIGRATION --Arizona One Year Later--Utah's Response

IMMIGRATION --Arizona One Year Later--Utah's Response

Approximately one year ago, on April 23, 2010, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed SB-1070 into law. The bill required local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, allowed U.S. citizens to sue those police officers they believe aren't doing so, and prohibited anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant for any reason, among other things. The major provisions of SB-1070 have been enjoined by the courts.

UTAH'S APPROACH: "Last summer, it was a foregone conclusion that Utah was going to do exactly what Arizona had done," stated a spokesman for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Yet in March 2011, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed off on a bundle of four immigration bills which include proposals that were specifically introduced as proactive alternatives to Arizona’s harsh immigration law. One of the measures would allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to carry a state-issued guest worker permit. A separate bill would create a migrant worker partnership with Mexico. Another piece of approved legislation will allow Utahans to sponsor migrants wanting to work or study in the state. Herbert also signed into law a bill that has been described as a “watered down” version of SB-1070. "We're not Arizona," asserted Utah's Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R). "Our police don't want to be ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents." Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) -- who happens to be one of the nation's most anti-immigrant lawmakers -- promptly demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) sue Utah. Yesterday, DOJ Secretary Eric Holder told t he House Judiciary Committee that his department will not pursue a case against Utah this year because the law itself is not set to go into effect for another two years and "by 2013 we might be in a different place." Meanwhile, Utah's leaders delivered their own advice. Shurtleff stated, "It is your [Smith's] responsibility to do comprehensive immigration reform. What are you doing? Instead of wagging your finger at Utah when we’re actually trying to do something here." Herbert agreed. "Typical Washington-attempt to deflect criticism that comes from Washington's abject failure to address immigration, then sue a state over something that won’t even take effect for two yea rs, rather than use those two years to do something positive," he said.



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