Utah debates immigration reform

Francisco Javier Hernandez, who came to the U.S. from Zacatecas, Mexico, 35 years ago, gains U.S. citizenship.


Steve Chiotakis: Off to Utah now, where in the area of immigration, that state is doing something very different from its neighbor to the south, Arizona. Immigration bills passed in the legislature would tighten enforcement. But they would also create a guest-worker program.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler explains.

Jeff Tyler: Hispanic activists plan to sue Utah if the governor signs a proposed immigration enforcement bill. Sort of a watered-down version of Arizona's controversial law.

Utah State Representative Stephen Sandstrom wrote the bill.

Stephen Sandstrom: It requires police to verify immigration status for Class A misdemeanors and felonies.

A competing bill would create a guest worker program. Undocumented workers currently in the state would pay a fine of $2,500. Then they could work in Utah legally. But that would still conflict with federal law.

Sandstrom: I am absolutely opposed to this bill. This bill is blatantly unconstitutional.

If the bill is signed into law, Sandstrom expects lawsuits. And he worries that it would be interpreted as a kind of amnesty.

Sandstrom: It's going to attract tens of thousands of illegal aliens here.

Ron Mortensen is founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration.

Ron Mortensen: I think it would be devastating to our school systems, to our social services systems and it would be very, very difficult on illegal workers trying to obtain jobs.

Others say Utah's economy would suffer without a guest worker program. As for the expense of defending a guest worker program in court? Mark Shurtleff, Utah's Republican attorney general, says there may not be any lawsuits. That's because the guest worker program wouldn't start for another two years. During that time, he'll try to negotiate a waiver from the federal government allowing Utah to move forward with its experiment.

Shurtleff's been in Washington this week drumming up support.

Mark Shurtleff: I mentioned this in the White House meeting that we can show that red state Utah is going to step up and say, there's a way we can work together with the federal government toward the mutual benefit and to ultimately comprehensive, just, reasonable and workable immigration reform.

He wants Congress to embrace a national compact -- a series of guiding principles for immigration reform. A similar compact in Utah helped politicians set aside partisan concerns and focus strictly on the economics of immigration.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.
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A zero-tolerance enforcement covers two issues over illegal immigration reduction. This is E-Verify, an operation of the (SSA) Social Security Administration combined with the (ICE) Immigration and Custom Service. A few years back Senator Harry Reid of Nevada Blitzed the E-Verify electronic program, by enacted it only on a voluntary basis. With today�s major problems E-Verify which is being revised continuously, needing to be mandated for every company in the United States, with no exceptions? The highest enforcement possibility must begin in the workplace, giving honest business owners a sense of security if they get audited. As the US government has given no priority to E-Verify, so three States so far have taken the E-Verify verification and made it compulsory for their own people. Americans should approach their federal and State representative, informing them they want E-Verify mandated, to identify new and previously hired illegal workers. That integrating Nationwide Drivers licenses Picture ID would reveal illegal workers using false identification documents. This type of enforcement is the strongest avenue to strangle any chance of foreigners taking Citizen and rightful residents jobs. In this time of the deepest recessions America has ever faced, everything must be done to begin Attrition through enforcement. For many decades illegal immigrants have been attracted to jobs in the US, by reckless employers and this must stop. By taking away business licenses, along with hefty fines, asset confiscation and ultimately prison for those who disobey the laws. This country has serious concerns with its highest debt ratio in US history and businesses, politicians are still financially favorable to anybody who slips past our national fence, or stays on after their tourist visa expires. Perpetually we need the most exceptionally skilled legal immigrants, and perhaps in the future a well uniform type of Guest worker program introduced without the mass fraud with have today. Through business improprieties of hiring illegal immigrants, has the effect of roughly 60 billion dollars leaving America to foreign banks annually. This country is on the verge of bankruptcy through amongst other things, "Ninja" loans of banks under threat of through their own desires gaving mortgages to (No Income, No Job or Assets) low income people, with possible millions of illegal aliens taking advantage of it. This was proportionately to blame for the real estate crash and this massive foreclosure crunch. Find the facts of this on your favorite browser, as it is unlikely to be available in the leftist news media. Illegal immigration has possible consequences, we cannot sustain anymore. This nation with its own hurting people, its own poverty must come first with aid. Any new amnesty would devastate the working poor, the lower middle class. All of us should demand permanent E-Verify, to remove unauthorized workers. Use your blue-pages to find those politicians that supposedly represent you, and tell them, "Enough is enough!" You can also vent your frustration on NumbersUSA, a pro-sovereignty organization that is fighting for your rights, instead of pandering to foreign nationals. Learn more about E-Verify at NumbersUSA that has questions and answers for you and a free faxing program to contact Washington.

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