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Utah Governor Challenges Lamar Smith on Immigration

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“Congress Should Get Into the Game and Actually Do Something”  

Rep. Lamar Smith is on the warpath against the state of Utah for passing a law that seeks a federal waiver to create a Utah-based work permit program for undocumented immigrants.  This provision was part of a package passed signed into law by Gov. Herbert in March, along with an Arizona-style enforcement bill and other provisions.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, Smith made a tortured argument for why the Utah work permit bill, but not the police enforcement law, should be challenged in court by the federal government.  In response, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) issued a strongly-worded statement: “Typical Washington—attempt to deflect criticism that comes from Washington’s abject failure to address immigration.”  Governor Herbert explained that the work permit provision won’t be implemented for two years, and suggested that Smith “use those two years to do something positive. . . .   Instead of throwing rocks at Utah, Congress should get off the sidelines, into the game and actually do something.”

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) also pushed back against Smith, stating: “He’s riding right along the line of the hard right wing radicals…He’s trying to stick his nose into Utah’s business and play politics.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Utah’s approach to immigration reform isn’t quite right.  In particular, the law enforcement bill that passed as part of the package of bills is an Arizona copycat that will drive a wedge between police and immigrant communities and invite civil rights violations against those who speak with an accent or appear to be “foreign.”  This bill should be stopped, by the courts if necessary.  But Governor Herbert and Attorney General Shurtleff are absolutely correct that it is Congress’ job to reform the broken immigration system, and they are right to call out Rep. Smith as one of the chief obstacles to balanced and workable reform.  In fact, Smith is the architect of current immigration system and the Member of Congress most responsible for our nation’s dysfunctional immigration regime.  If only Republicans in Congress had the guts of Utah’s governor and attorney general, we would have the federal solution to our dysfunctional immigration system that the nation wants and deserves.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.