One of the issues that I promised my constituents I would address when elected was the immigration issue. It was made very clear going door to door that the voters wanted something done to achieve some meaningful change. Up till now, however, the debate has largely centered on an enforcement only initiative proposed by a legislator from Utah county.
Several weeks ago, I was made aware of a piece of legislation being run in the Senate that I believe is more effective and accomplishes what my constituents and Utahns really want from immigration reform. As I was visiting with voters during the campaign, I consistently ran into folks who were conflicted over how to deal with illegal immigration. On one hand, they wanted our government to do something about the faceless hoards of people streaming across our borders unchecked and causing problems in the community. Yet, on the other hand they hoped that their immigrant friends and neighbors would be unaffected by any enforcement because they were good people. This seemed like an impossible challenge to overcome. That is until now...
I would like to announce my sponsorship of Senate Bill 60 on the House Floor. SB 60 answers the question of how to maintain public safety while holding harmless those of good will. It is rigorous but fair legislation.
Here is a summary of the program (click image to enlarge):
In essence this bill creates a controlled environment in which undocumented immigrants will pay a fee to be screened. The bar will be raised on expectations as they will be required to learn English and basic civics. They will not have access to welfare and unemployment benefits. They will be given the option of participating in the program or being compelled to leave the state as they are shut out of the workforce. To give traction to the whole system, businesses who violate the program will be fined starting at $10,000.
I wrestled with this issue for some time before deciding to support this legislation and I understand that not all of my constituents will be happy with this proposal. However, I do believe that it will accomplish more to enforce the law and promote prosperity than the alternatives that are currently being presented. I ask for your thoughtful consideration of this proposal as we move forward in the debate on immigration. May we have a civil and insightful discourse.