Lee / Chaffetz Say HB 116 Unconstitutional

Members of Utah’s federal delegation are beginning to speak up about the new Utah law that leapfrogs over federal government visas and implements its own state-run guest worker program for illegal immigrants.

Senator Mike Lee

Yesterday the Salt Lake Tribune printed portions of an interview with Senator Mike Lee concerning HB116:

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday there is no chance that a guest-worker program passed by the Utah Legislature will be allowed to take effect.

“It’s just not going to happen,” Lee said. “It would take a massive shift in federal law for that to even be considered, and there’s no appetite to transfer that authority over to the states.”

HB116 included a lengthy note from legislative attorneys that essentially agreed with Lee’s evaluation. The note said that there is currently no mechanism for the federal government to waive its immigration authority, and without that the bill is likely unconstitutional.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz also denounced HB116 at a town hall meeting in West Jordan on Tuesday night:

“I feel it’s unconstitutional, and I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” he said to cheers from a standing-room-only crowd.

Chaffetz said it is ironic that Utah politicians often complain that the federal government violates the Constitution and moves into areas reserved for states, but now “we have come to the point that the state is trying to do something that clearly is the purview of the federal government” by issuing work permits.

“Should it be illegal to be here illegally? Yes,” said Chaffetz.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz

A separate Tribune article published last week shortly before Governor Herbert signed HB116 also reported Congressman Chaffetz’s thoughts on HB116:

Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who is weighing a challenge to either Hatch or Herbert, said he believes state HB116 is amnesty and should be vetoed.

“I find it to be unconstitutional,” said Chaffetz, who in 2008 beat then-Rep. Chris Cannon partially on an anti-immigration campaign. “Clearly we can agree that the federal government is failing in this regard but there are certain things the federal government should be doing and other things the state should be doing.”

Chaffetz said if he were governor, he would veto the bill.

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