The battle over illegal immigration is heating up at the capitol. Some legislators are proposing enforcement laws, while others are proposing legislation that would grant illegal immigrants benefits that run contrary to existing federal immigration laws (for a list/summary of immigration bills in the works, check out this Daily Herald list).
Representative Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem) has filed HB70 the “Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act,” which is a bill that insists the state comply with current federal immigration law. This bill is on the agenda for the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee for tomorrow, Feb 9, at 4:00 p.m. (2/9 note – the hearing of this bill has been postponed). The bill is patterned after Arizona’s recently passed SB1070. Among other provisions, Sandstrom’s bill would require law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those they arrest or detain, require verification of immigration status in order to apply for public benefits or licenses, and protect against racial profiling in the enforcement of immigration law.
In answer to Sandstrom’s pro-enforcement legislation, several Utah businesses and associations unveiled the Utah Compact, a document containing a list of five principles they hope will guide Utah’s immigration discussion in a more permissive direction. Among other things, the Compact states that Utah law enforcement should not focus on enforcing civil violations of federal code, that Utah’s policies should welcome anyone who wishes to come here to work, and that Utah should foster a spirit of inclusion toward illegal immigrants already residing here. The LDS Church released an official statement supporting the Compact, although it stopped short of signing the document. However, Church-owned Deseret Management Corporation did sign the compact — this is the parent company of the Deseret News and KSL (or KSLDS, as I like to call them. More on Utah media bias in a future article.).
The signers of the Compact are the usual suspects from the pro-amnesty crowd, which ranges from liberal lawmakers to Hispanic organizations to businesses with questionable hiring practices. The signing organizations stand to benefit from illegal immigration by employing cheap illegal labor, soliciting religious converts and increasing customers for their associations. A sampling of the list of signers includes:
Bishop John C. Wester, of the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce President Lane Beattie
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
Deseret Management CEO Mark Willes
Michael Clara, Republican Hispanic Assembly president
Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi
Paul Mero, Sutherland Institute president
Questar CEO Ron Jibson
Ivory Homes CEO Clark Ivory
Jill Taylor, president of KeyBank’s Utah district
As far as immigration law (or any other law, for that matter) is concerned, the obvious approach in America is: if you don’t like the law, work to change it; until that time, obey the laws on the books. The intent of the Compact is to influence change in immigration law, swaying Utah law (not federal law, mind you) toward lenient immigration policies and amnesty. While the Compact and those who support it proclaim that immigration is a federal issue and therefore pro-enforcement state legislation should be stifled, they hypocritically have no problem striving to influence state legislators in support of their anti-enforcement agenda.
Church-owned news outlets KSLDS and Deseret News are pushing the Compact as the sensible alternative to following the rule of law. Unfortunately, the Church’s foray into the political battlefield leaves many questioning the Church’s 12th Article of Faith (we believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”).
Polls show that approximately 60% of voters nationwide approve of enforcing our federal immigration laws, and a recent Dan Jones poll showed that 57% of Utahns are in favor of Arizona-style enforcement legislation.
As immigration bills begin to appear in committees and on the floor of the Legislature, we can only hope that our legislators have the fortitude and integrity required to represent the will of their constituents, not the will of influential special interest groups.