Making Government Work

While Washington Dithers Over Immigration Reform, a State Gets Down to Business

March 11, 2014
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While Washington Dithers Over Immigration Reform, a State Gets Down to Business
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Showing some western, can-do spirit, Utah proactively passes two laws.

Were officials in Washington, D.C. elected to argue and name call or were they sent to our nation’s capital to get things done? In recent years, it definitely seems that they’ve been more interested in the former rather than the latter.

That’s especially true when it comes to the topic of immigration, which is something that has many people — from business owners seeking visas for highly-skilled employees, to those looking for temporary workers to harvest crops, to people who were brought to the U.S. as children and have no other country to call home — clamoring for reform.

Utah decided that it couldn’t wait on immigration reform from the Federal government, so its legislature passed two common-sense laws itself.

One law allows undocumented immigrants to stay in Utah and work legally provided that they pay a fine, demonstrate some English proficiency, and pass a background check. Another Utah law allows state residents to sponsor undocumented immigrants — giving them the legal right to live and work in the state.

According to the Deseret News, Republican Senator Curt Bramble of Provo said that these laws, “demonstrate that elected officials can come together and address in a responsible manner immigration.” The only problem? Utah passed these laws three years ago but it needs federal approval to implement them, because the U.S. government is solely responsible for immigration.

Utah has delayed implementing these laws until 2017 in the hopes they’ll see some movement on federal immigration reform by then. In the meantime, state citizens have put together The Utah Compact, a document endorsed by a wide range of people and organizations in Utah with the goal of elevating the tone of discussion around immigration reform. It reads, in part, “Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.”

Now if only the Federal government would be as hospitable as the state of Utah.

MORE: Utah is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015 with This One Simple Idea

 

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