Utah Legislature Passes Immigration Bills

Previously, we reported on our blog and website about the controversial Arizona Immigration law. Last Friday, Utah lawmakers approved a package of immigration bills that would allow unauthorized foreigners to obtain a work permit and work legally in Utah under a so-call guest worker program.

According to NPR, the immigration measures approved by both chambers Friday night would allow illegal immigrants to get a permit to work in Utah. However, they would also include a requirement that police check the immigrant status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Supporters say the entire package balances economic needs and compassion, while opponents argue it will likely encourage more illegal immigration.

Lawmakers initially balked at the enforcement measure, HB 497, because of what some viewed as a likely backlash. But sponsor Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, garnered enough support for passage after amending it to focus on more serious crimes.

Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, the sponsor of the bill creating the guest worker program, HB 116, said if the state can secure a federal waiver the program could become a model for the entire country.

It would allow illegal immigrants to get a permit to live and work in Utah with their families.

The most vocal critic, Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, said a guest worker program would draw more illegal immigrants to Utah.

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For more updates on immigration law, please visit our website.

(c) Picture: Chuck Felix – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/USA_g133-American_Flag_p8816.html

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Reinhard von Hennigs