Earlier this week, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) threw a hissy fit about the Utah law, writing a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to make a tortured case for why the work permit component of the legislation (the part he dislikes) should be challenged in court by the federal government, ala the Arizona law, while the police enforcement component (the part he does like) should remain in place.

In the month since Utah passed a controversial package of immigration reform legislation the country’s been buzzing with praise and criticism. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday reiterated its appreciation for the legislation.

Amid a steady trickle of questions from LDS members and a swelling stream of political criticism of a state guest-worker law, the church is repeating its support of the Utah Compact, and it again described immigration laws enacted by Utah’s governor and Legislature as “a responsible approach.”

Liberal immigration activists are looking to Utah as a compassionate and logical model for shaping the nation’s future policies toward illegal immigrants. Utah leaders — including government, education, business and religious groups — came together last fall to draft a set of principles to guide the immigration debate in the state.

A national version of the Utah Compact is largely written, and key officials are aiming for a signing ceremony this summer in Washington, D.C., to propel discussions on immigration reform solutions. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Tuesday the so-called “America’s Compact” aligns closely with the Utah Compact.

Two weeks after Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert signed into law sweeping immigration reforms, the backlash is still being felt across this conservative state, and Herbert faces possible primary challengers when he seeks reelection next year.

Ever since Arizona passed its tough immigration law penalizing undocumented workers, other states have been considering similar laws. But so far, no Arizona-type legislation has passed. Instead, one state has chosen a different approach that it hopes will become an alternative model for dealing with the illegal immigration problem.

In the weeks and months after Arizona’s infamous Senate Bill 1070 became law last year, no shortage of commentators predicted that “Arizona fever” would sweep the nation, spawning copycat immigration bills in every corner of the US. In some states, this happened; stringent anti-immigration bills are winding their way through the Georgia, Oklahoma, and Florida statehouses (among others) right now.

Surrounded by supporters urging the federal government to tackle illegal immigration, Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law Tuesday a series of bills passed by the Utah Legislature that have been described as a “Utah solution” to the issue.

The LDS Church stepped from the sidelines on immigration reform and squarely onto the playing field Tuesday by sending Presiding Bishop H. David Burton to attend and speak at Gov. Gary Herbert’s signing ceremony for four bills passed by the Utah Legislature.