Local business interests, community leaders, and leaders from various faiths descended on the Capitol today to sign "The Utah Compact - A Declaration of Five Principles to guide Utah's immigration discussion".
Here is a copy of the compact (click to enlarge):
The document itself doesn't offer any solutions or suggest any specific policy. Rather, in my opinion, it tries to define the debate that will occur on the Hill this year regarding illegal immigration. With Governor Herbert asking for a comprehensive reform package this year, the collision course has been set for those who have signed this pact with legislators like myself whose constituents elected them to address this issue in a meaningful way. The debate should be lively. I look forward to the discussion.
Here is the text of the pact and my responses:
FEDERAL SOLUTIONS — Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries — not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah's congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
This is correct. As a state, we are essentially hostage to Federal inaction regarding this issue. Hence, our constituents growing frustration. This is exactly why I propose that our Federal delegation, our state Legislature, and our Governor form a pact with other states to compel our Federal government to take action. Even Texas has an "Arizona-style" bill on the table this year. We should lock arms with states like Texas and confront our Federal Government on this issue. There is safety in numbers with such a course of action.
LAW ENFORCEMENT — We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement's professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.
I agree. Law enforcement simply does not have the resources to be immigration enforcers as well. However, with a large minority of our crimes being caused by illegal immigrants, it is logical to assume that crime would go down in direct proportion to the absence of illegal immigrants in our communities. Therefore, we need to seek out solutions that remove incentives for illegal immigrants to come to Utah.
FAMILIES — Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
The first sentence is correct and separating families is not ideal. However, any policy that sends the message to would-be illegal immigrants abroad that marrying a citizen or having children in the U.S. will give you a free pass to stay here is pure folly. It will only exacerbate the problem, not make it better. Immigrants should be encouraged to come here with their families through the legal channels our Federal government offers.
I also believe that this statement blurs the lines between citizen rights and non-citizen rights. Education and other taxpayer funded services provided by the state are there for the advantage of citizens. As citizens, we have rights that other non-citizens do not. Hence, the bother of even distinguishing between the two. This statement seems to suggest that citizens and non-citizens should be treated the same as one another in regards to health, education, and well-being.
I am of the opinion that state resources for welfare, child care, or tuition assistance should not be issued to illegal immigrants. To issue such benefits will only attract more illegal immigrants seeking taxpayer funded assistance. The practice is also an insult to citizens who can utilize these scarce resources. While we welcome and encourage freedom-seeking people to come to America, to be a citizen means something of value and, therefore, we should protect the importance of citizenship through policy that advocates such.
ECONOMY — Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah's immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
We need immigrant labor. However, the quantity of immigrant labor needs to be controlled and held in proper account. That is not happening now thanks to our Federal government. Fortunately, we can be business friendly and still provide opportunity for legal immigrant labor through the E-Verify system. Provide penalties for businesses that do not use the system and much of the illegal immigrant problem will cure itself. It is my understanding that Utah law, though mandating use of the E-Verify system for businesses with over 15 employees, provides no penalty for those that choose not to use it. Why do we have such toothless laws?
A FREE SOCIETY — 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.
The only question I have is how somebody defines the word "goodwill". It could be argued that anyone that comes to the United States looking for work could be considered "goodwilled". However, it could also be argued that anyone coming to the United States in violation of the law could be coming here in "bad faith".
I am sure that the coming session will be full or rancor. For more on my views on illegal immigration, click here