Utah’s Immigration Mess

I posted last night over on the Corner on the topic of Utah’s immigration mess. Full post here, but basically the nub is well set out in this paragraph from a LA Times report:

Gov. Gary Herbert last week signed a bill that would give illegal immigrants who do not commit serious crimes and are working in Utah documents that, in the state’s eyes at least, make them legal residents. For the law to work, however, the Obama administration would have to permit Utah to make it legal to employ people who entered the United States illegally — a federal crime. Even the law’s proponents acknowledge that’s an uphill battle.

Herbert and the rest of those who supported this measure should be voted out of office at the earliest possible opportunity.

An extra twist to the story comes from what the LA Times sees as Mormon influence:

Utah has long had softer laws on illegal immigration than even states such as California. It allows illegal-immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at public universities and gives “driving privilege cards” to undocumented migrants to allow them to obtain insurance.The dynamic is partly explained by the number of people in Utah who have performed missions in other countries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are sympathetic to the plight of outsiders.

The Church’s declaration of support for the “Utah Compact” (the declaration that lies at the root of the new laws) can be found here. For the most part it is made up of the usual pulpit pap, but it concludes with some doubletalk on the rule of law:

We acknowledge that every nation has the right to enforce its laws and secure its borders. All persons subject to a nation’s laws are accountable for their acts in relation to them.

Good, but….

Public officials should create and administer laws that reflect the best of our aspirations as a just and caring society. Such laws will properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws.

Real translation: the state of Utah should feel free to ignore federal immigration laws.

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6 Responses to Utah’s Immigration Mess

  1. John says:

    The Catholic Church is the same way. All attempts to deport illegal immigrants are “inhumane”.

  2. Clark says:

    I don’t think that’s their position. Rather they are attempting to not take any specific position but arguing that whatever position is taken it should be done with charity. The Utah Compact which the Church supported recognizes the importance of federal law and changing federal regulations. I’m kind of surprised you think they don’t. I don’t see the problem with Utah passing such a law while awaiting necessary federal changes for it to take full effect.

    It’s interesting that the Church gets it from both sides. Some latino activists petitioned the Mexican government to stop giving Mormon missionaries visas because they were so upset that the Church was too harsh on immigration. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. (grin)

    It seems to me that what Utah wanted to do in practice is increase enforcement without appearing to have all stick and not carrot the way Arizona did. In this way they can get the enforcement without the backlash that Arizona got. This was quite important considering the place of both tourism as well as conventions in the state economy.

    My understanding is that the guest worker program of the law only goes into effect when Washington grants a waiver. So I don’t really see what the problem is. However clearly the real burden of work is at the federal level.

  3. RandyB says:

    According to the American Community Survey (the replacement of the old Census long form) Utah’s foreign-born Latino population is only 4.7% of the state, below the national average of 6.6%, and well below some of its neighbors:

    Nevada 11.3
    Arizona 9.8
    California 14.7

    Considering how many teenagers grow up there, it’s probably not a destination for those seeking minimum wage work in the hospitality or landscaping industries.

    Data from here:

  4. Clark says:

    Yes, it’s kind of interesting how it is such a big issue in Utah given the large Mormon population and the fact the main folks against it tend to be Mormon. There was a tradition of a more moderate view and even really far right conservatives like Rep. Chris Cannon held that view. Cannon lost his seat in the caucus due to opposition by those wanting tougher immigration enforcement. That this remains despite the LDS Church coming out against this position is quite interesting and clearly undermines the view of Mormons being political followers. Although to be fair it tends to be the activists within the state who are most enflamed on the issue.

    There is a big hospitality industry here. Remember that tourism is a huge deal here with the skiing, many National Parks, and lot of other recreation areas. However having a lot of teenagers and college kids helps.

  5. Mike H says:

    The LDS Church sees illegals and thinks converts. Whether Mormons support it or not is probably dependent on whether they are Mormons or conservatives first.

  6. Polichinello says:

    The head of the Southern Baptist Convention is an advocate of open borders, though he uses the same BS line about respecting the law. I think all churches see immigrants as a means of keeping themselves in business.

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