Sen. Luz Robles’ counter-immigration proposal was discussed today with house co-sponsor Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden as the pitchman.
Senate Bill 60 was unveiled today by republican co-sponsor Peterson who told a press conference today that Robles’ bill presented a unique solution to a problem he had heard on the campaign trail.
“One side wants to stop the unchecked hordes of immigrants coming across the border and filling up our institutions and communities. On the other side they wanted to protect their neighbors and friends who were good parts of the community,” Peterson told the conference. “This piece of legislation best addresses the issue voters want to have addressed and does so in a fair and rigorous way.”
Peterson repeated the theme offered by Robles that the bill is comprehensive by creating a card for undocumented immigrants that requires of them a criminal background check, and pass English language and civics education. While these immigrants wouldn’t be granted any kind of amnesty they would be allowed to work in the state.
Peterson argued the bill would help keep account of responsible members of the estimated 110,000 undocumented immigrants that live in Utah--and increase public safety in the process. “Our legislation would allow law enforcement focus on bad actors in the community,” Peterson said. Robles said this factor would actually give her bill a stronger enforcement mechanism than Sen. Stephen Sandstrom’s, enforcement heavy approach. “It reduces a universe of the population that law enforcement has to focus on,” Robles said.
Peterson was challenged on whether or not this bill fit a true conservative ideology and said this bill is more about addressing reality rather than political ideology. “We could look at this issue ideologically, but ultimately we will be frustrated,” Peterson said. “This finds that middle road.”
The sponsors acknowledged that the bill faces an uphill battle and did not object to the possibility that all of the bill, or components of it, could be integrated into an immigration omnibus bill that might gather elements of the numerous immigration bills at the Legislature into one package. “We’re going to be a part of that discussion,” Robles said, but qualified that she would not support an “Arizona”-type solution.
Robles emphasized that the bill not only addresses Utah voters’ frustration with undocumented immigrants but also their frustration with the federal government’s inaction on the issue. “They are not doing their jobs—and it’s been decades,” Robles told the conference. “This is a very responsible way to put pressure on the federal government to do something.”