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Immigration registry bill narrowly passes senate committee

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2011-02-24 -

A Senate bill to bring Utah’s undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and into a database that would allow them to live and work in the state, survived a committee hearing yesterday by a single vote.

Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City made its first appearance yesterday in the Senate Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee after months of preparation and planning that extended right up until its committee hearing. Even as a press conference was held in the Senate caucus room announcing a new senate immigration bill, Robles could be seen making a last minute pitch of her bill to Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, who would later be the swing vote on the committee that passed her bill out with 3 yes votes to 2 no votes.

The bill would create a pilot program that would allow undocumented immigrants in Utah to register with the Department of Public Safety and work in the state so long as they underwent criminal background checks and enrolled in English and civics classes, at their own expense, meant to help better integrate them into their broader communities. Robles argued that her bill would assist law enforcement’s pursuit of criminal aliens better than enforcement-heavy bills like the one sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.

“This reduces that universe of the [undocumented] population’s criminal element,” that law enforcement has to investigate, Robles said, citing figures of an estimated 110,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah.

Her republican co-sponsor, Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden told the committee that the pilot program would provide policymakers with information to give them a firmer grasp of this shadow demographic. “This will give us a first of its kind census of who is here,” Peterson said. “As a policy making body that will allow us to make better decisions on budgets and other issues.”

Paul Mero, the director of the conservative think tank the Sutherland Institute, and also a major collaborator on the bill, argued that the legislation was by no means amnesty. “This does not give anyone legal status, this does not provide a get-out-of-jail-free card, this is not a special privilege for anyone,” Mero said. “This bill takes an unfunded mandate from the federal government and turns it into human productivity.”

Robles also noted amendments to the bill would allow revenue collected from the program would help fund restitution for victims of identity theft. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also weighed in on the presentation, speaking of the bill’s ability to help Utah law enforcement.

“We believe the best way to enforce the rule of law is to incentivize legal conduct,” Shurtleff told the committee. “And that’s exactly what SB60 does.”

Critics on both sides of the immigration debate, however, took issue with the bill. Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake City immigration attorney and member of the activist group United for Social Justice, challenged bill proponents who argued the bill was in line with the Utah Compact, a document advocating humane and comprehensive immigration reform that was endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“Some have used the Utah Compact to push SB60 and other state solutions, but the Utah Compact calls for a federal [immigration] solution,” Alvarez told the committee. “The Utah Compact does not claim to be a blueprint for policy. It is a guide for discussion that we should follow the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land—it does not go the other way.”

Robert Wren, director of Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, pointed out to the committee that the bill requires a waiver from the federal government before its implemented, which could simply mean maintaining the “status quo.” “A great deal of time and money is going to be spent while we lobby for a waiver,” Wren said.

In committee discussion the only republican to ask Robles about her bill was chairman Madsen, who expressed plenty of reservations. He suggested that the bill ought to grant preference to undocumented immigrants who may have come to the country legally but over stayed on their visas, versus those who illegally crossed the border. “The difference to me is like inviting someone over to dinner who then perhaps eats too much or stays too long as opposed to someone who kicks down your door and eats all the food in your kitchen or pantry,” Madsen said.

Despite reservations, Madsen wanted more input on the bill from his fellow legislators. “Today I’m going to vote on this bill because I want to see this robust discussion continue,” he said.

He was the only republican on the committee to do so, casting the pivotal third yes vote to clear the way for the bill’s discussion on the Senate floor.

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Posted // February 24,2011 at 13:48


States are in turmoil because they don't have sufficient money to cover retirement pensions and money for health care for public employees. It began with Madison, Wisconsin but now it’s spreading to other States, with enormous holes in their treasuries. The time is now here to remove the illegal immigration portion of the problem. Just think about it? If--YOUR--your state doesn't enforce harsh immigration laws, thousands will arrive there from Arizona or any other zero-tolerance State. When the Grand Canyon State of Arizona began drastic reduction measures, to cut-off welfare benefits, 14th Amendment birthright citizenship law for the babies of illegal immigrants and all the provisions of new policing legislation, the huge population of illegal foreign nationals starting moving out?

It's really just common sense that they don't want to be caught driving a vehicle without a license or insurance, so they will pack up their possessions. It's obvious they are going to leave States with too much harassment and may be captured and turned over to ICE. But where lawmakers have dismissed or failed to enact policing laws they will be heading your way? Immediate States near the border have overcrowded schools full of the children of illegal aliens, given no chance for the students of the legal residents to get a decent education—again the law is mandated. Schools are so undernourished by not having enough money, they have to rely on school children parents for books and other classroom material or the teacher must buy extras from their salaries. Try having a minor accident at work and being rushed to the emergency room, only to wait in the reception room for hours because the whole place is crammed with people and their children sneezing and coughing with no English spoken; the law is mandated?

Arizona and other States are hoping to save their own financial hide, while soft convenient States as the Sanctuary State of California, Nevada mostly run by Liberal Progressives in Sacramento and Carson City are readying to justify raising more taxes on residents. A bundle of new enforcement laws to be passed by Arizona will send even more apprehensive illegal workers and families, going on selective journeys. To perhaps Utah, Colorado or any number of States that have corrupt State Senators and Representatives, who are feathering their nests with campaign contributions from big employers and radical wide open border groups. Lax State inhabitants will wish they spoke up and demanded of their State leadership to enact laws, with less pandering to foreigners squatting in their communities. Why didn't they speak up, calling their State politician that they need a mandated E-Verify, 287 (G) or the Secure Community policing laws and then to sever all public payments and welfare.

California--of course will get the majority of the illegal influx of people from Arizona, but other States with less revenue, will also become a target for economic aliens. California right now is bleeding copiously from a 24 Billion deficit, high taxes and huge public expenditures for illegal aliens. Don't think for one minute if Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs onto an endorsement that allows a State Guest Worker program and not imposing penalties on business for not using E-Verify or any of Brambles Sen. Curt Bramble’s omnibus immigration bills. It will send a message to Arizona and other restrictive illegal alien States, that Utah has opened the floodgates and they have a welcome mat out to economic illegal nationals who see the State as a welfare refuge for families, instant citizen babies and with that food stamps, Medicaid, section 8 housing and cash payments for every child they conceive and welfare. As an Utahan or any other State who is sick of the IRS snatching your taxes to support the millions of illegal aliens squatting in America, demand that your (Federal or State) Senators or Congressmen pull the plug on the illegal immigrant invasion. Your Telephone book generally has a listing of both your local State and US government lawmakers who supposedly represents your rights. You can also join the regional TEA Party where you live, but also become a member the million plus of pro-sovereignty group NumbersUSA.


Posted // February 24,2011 at 10:34

I am sure the illegal person here will rush to place their names on a data base that ICE can use to deport them. When will Utah learn, immigration is a Federal Issue. The only thing employers in Utah wants is cheap labor.