Proposed Utah Legislation Example of Good State Conduct

From guest blogger, Santiago J. Valenzuela

Proposed legislation in Utah, while not perfect, is an example of the type of action a state could take to mitigate the problems that arise from Federal misconduct on the immigration.

Sen. Luz Robles and the conservative think tank, The Sutherland Institute, are working together drafting a new immigration bill that may offer an option for Utah's undocumented immigrants who want to work in the state legally.

Robles claims there are currently 110,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah whose majority numbers want to work and be productive members of society.

Robles introduced Tuesday a 21-page piece of legislation still in the drafting stages called the Utah Pilot Accountability Permit Program. The program would provide undocumented immigrants with permit cards allowing them to work legally given that they be subject to a criminal background check and that they both pay taxes and enroll in English and civics classes.

Among other things, we would like to see the cumbersome and arbitrary requirements for civics and ESL classes dropped.  Many illegal immigrants work long hours and sometimes every day of the week, so finding time for the classes would be difficult at best.  Furthermore, continuing education is a choice that must be made by an individual.  It’s a violation of their individual rights to force them into classes, much less classes they may not even need.

The most attractive part of the bill is that it will now be legal for a business owner to hire people with such permits, rather than having to follow onerous "Americans first" rules.  Essentially, it restores individual rights to the business owner to run their business how they see fit and hire whomever they please.

While still in the drafting stages, this bill has huge potential to show just what a state government can do to legalize the work status of many undocumented workers in their borders. If passed, it would hopefully put pressure on other states and the federal government to take positive action. 

We will be keeping an eye on this promising legislation and update our readers on its progress through the Utah legislature.  If you live in Utah, please call, write or email The Sutherland Institute and your legislator’s office and express your support of their work!

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