Saturday, March 19, 2011

Utah's New Immigration Law

D.I.Y. Immigration Reform -

Though Utah’s bill seeks to temper Arizona’s approach — it would, for example, require officers to check immigration status only when people are arrested for serious crimes — it is still too open to abuse.

Utah’s planned guest-worker program would issue permits to immigrants, even undocumented ones, allowing them to work in Utah after they pass a background check and pay a fine. This is magnanimous, practical and respectful of federal authority — it would go into effect only after Washington granted a waiver — but even so, it is troubling. Illegal immigrants cannot legally be hired, and it is hard to see how any state could carve out its own exception to that rule — or why the federal government would allow it. It should not.

Another new law allows the governor to enter into a pilot program with the Mexican state of Nuevo León to supply legal workers through existing federal guest-worker programs. Those programs are cumbersome and offer too few protections to workers. We certainly applaud efforts to streamline legal immigration. Utah will need to commit to defending the workers it recruits and to detect and root out employer abuse.

Utah’s legislators deserve credit for trying. But the country cannot have 50 separate immigration systems, 50 separate foreign policies, 50 states following, leading or stumbling around one another.

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