Utah’s New Immigration Laws Signed By Governor Herbert

March 16th, 2011 · 2 Comments

A few days ago, I blogged about two new immigration laws in Utah that had passed in the state legislature. Today those bills became laws in Utah with Governor Herbert signing a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and a guest worker program. The enforcement measure (House Bill 497) requires police to check the immigration status of suspects who are arrested for felony or serious misdemeanor charges, placing an immigration enforcement activity in the hands of local police officers. This law is expected to face immediate legal challenges.

And the guest worker bill (House Bill 116), while having a two year start date (meaning it doesn’t take effect now), won’t allow undocumented workers to regularize their status until federal immigration happens. I think that guest worker programs are a step in the right direction because they could provide a basic level of occupational safety and legitimacy to undocumented employees, but absent a pathway to citizenship for those who continue to be “guests”, workers could continue to linger without opportunities to collectively bargain and advocate for themselves. Utah’s HB 116 is an interesting concept, but it won’t go anywhere without a federal plan or policy to compliment it.

Both of these laws are going to be difficult to enforce and will likely be challenged as federal law trumps state law  (and immigration is considered a federal matter).

This short analysis about these two bills from Firedoglake is a great summation:

“It’s worth noting that the bill sponsor in Utah believes that his law is different from the Arizona law, in that it does not require law enforcement to ask about immigration status when picking up people on anything less than a serious misdemeanor. Meanwhile, the guest worker program, which would need a federal waiver that currently does not exist, is certainly novel; the bill sponsor of the law enforcement measure opposed it vociferously. A third law creates a pact with Nuevo León State in Mexico to funnel Mexicans into the guest worker program. Because a state can’t really create a guest worker program, the latter two bills have been dismissed by immigrant’s rights advocates (and frankly, any bill that invites workers to be employed under dubious grants of rights should be seen as immediately suspect). Therefore, you end up with a law that is in many respects a mirror of the Arizona law, with some of the most controversial pieces softened.”

While I don’t like the idea of potentially hundreds of different state level immigration laws because of the confusion it creates, one positive point about these laws is that they keep the immigration issue on the policy agenda.

Tags: Immigration · Mexico

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chicano future tense // Mar 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Utah is an interesting case in point in respect to the issue of undocumented Immigration.

    I believe these two bills recently passed in Utah are actually the divided results of will between hardline anti-immigration activists and a tacit alliance between Latino Immigrant rights activists with a significant sector of the Mormon church which includes some of their top leaders.

    Most people aren’t aware that Mexico has the largest Mormon community,the most Mormon temples outside the USA.

    Over one million Mormons in Mexico and growing fast.Mormons have very strong interest in Mexicans because they look upon them as desirable future converts to their church.There are also some historical as well as religious aspects to this view which date back to the founding days of Mormonism.In Mormon theology native Americans were considered to be a lost tribe if Isreal.

    Mormons in Mexico have achieved a high level of wealth,development and poltical influence so much so that when the former leader of the church went on an official trip to Mexico president Vincente Fox treated the visit as an almost official state visit.He spoke admiringly and glowingly of what he perceived as positive Mormon contributions to Mexico.There is a very strong tie between Mexico and the Mormon church which I believe has created a controversy and struggle within the church itself as whether to open the doors to Mexicans in Utah or to go along with the anti-immigrant demagogues.

    I have a strong feeling that the form of CIRC we will be seeing in the future will be some type of fuzzy hybrid nominal Immigration reform/de facto guest worker program.
    CIRC as most Latinos wish to see become a reality is for the the time being deader than a doornail.
    The closest to CIRC,in it’s place,will be mutant variations of reform such as what we see in Utah.
    It has been said politics makes strange bedfellows.I think in the case of the Mormon church this should also include self-interest and religion.

    IMHO, immigration reform of ANY type will NOT be brought about by the duplicitous Democratic party/Obama administration.
    The Demos are treacherous and only interested in exploting and manipulating the Latino vote.

    And don’t give us that same old bull we’ve been hearing from idiotic Latino cheerleader fools since Obama got elected ..”Obama is bad,the Democratic party is good”.

    The only thing on the horizon I see barely resembling approximating CIRC will be not be federal but local state guest worker programs,in the case of Utah, sponsored by a certain section of the conservative right wing.

    I have a feeling that for the foreseeable this is all what we should expect to see in terms of Immigration reform.

  • 2 brian // Apr 27, 2011 at 6:04 am

    The law is unconstitutional….
    Article I of the United States Constitution Clearly states…

    (Section 8) The Congress shall have Power To…

    (clause 4 ) To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

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