The Utah Legislature passed a pair of immigration bills aimed at striking a balance between people who want to deport all illegal immigrants and those who want to integrate them into American society. Much as Arizona discovered after passing an immigration enforcement law last year, Utah’s road toward immigration changes will probably go through the courts.
The debate on immigration at the state level took marked turn over the weekend. Utah passed immigration legislation that is decidely unlike what we saw last year from Arizona.
In the first move by a state to extend legal recognition to illegal immigrant laborers, the Utah Legislature has passed immigration bills that include a guest worker program that would allow unauthorized foreigners to work legally in the state.
Rep. John Dougall’s proposal to allow Utah residents to sponsor an immigrant and bypass the federal immigration process passed through the House by a wide margin Thursday. The Highland Republican saw his bill, HB469, as a test to reassert states’ rights to oversee immigration and bring people who want to come to the United States legally.
Two lawmakers who have been at odds with each other on immigration legislation stood together Wednesday to jointly introduce a migrant worker bill that seeks to begin a partnership between Utah and a state in Mexico.
Sniping between the House and Senate over how to approach illegal immigration legislation took center stage at the Capitol again Monday. With passage of a bill aimed at repealing in-state tuition for undocumented college students, the House has now approved four measures on the controversial subject.
A pilot program carried by a Senate Democrat that would allow undocumented immigrants to register, live and work in Utah squeaked through a committee hearing Wednesday, now setting it up for a difficult fight on the Senate floor.
A reasonable conservative approach to immigration — that’s not something we’ve heard much about recently, what with all the extreme campaign rhetoric and state laws. But this week, a conservative coalition in Utah gives immigration reform advocates a reason to hope that a rational dialogue on this contentious issue is possible.