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Utah's Common Sense And Humane Treatment Of Immigrants

by Charles Kuck

With all of the anti-immigrant state legislation going around it's nice to see that Utah has adopted a common sense approach to immigration reform.

Official text of Utah Compact declaration on immigration reform

Deseret News - Published: Friday, Nov. 12, 2010 11:00 a.m. MST

A declaration of five principles to guide Utah's immigration discussion

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

SALT LAKE CITY — Local Latino leaders welcomed a new document backed by a broad spectrum of Utah business, political and community leaders aimed at reframing the heated and emotional debate on illegal immigration. Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, called the so-called Utah Compact and subsequent LDS Church statement of support a "game changer" in efforts to reform immigration laws at the state level. And Archie Archuleta, chairman of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, said he now sees some light at the end of the tunnel. But "we hope that the tunnel doesn't collapse."

How much weight the statements carry with the Legislature remains to be seen. At least a dozen immigration bills could be considered when lawmakers convene in January, with Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's controversial proposal being the most publicized to date. "I think it will play in as a factor," said Senate President Michael Waddoups. But in the end, he said, legislators will do what they think is best for the state and their constituents.

The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Utah Attorney General's Office, the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office, the Sutherland Institute and United Way on Thursday unveiled the Utah Compact, a document outlining five principles, such as urging federal solutions and keeping families together, to guide the immigration discussion. Compact signers include former Gov. Olene Walker and former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn.

A KSL flash poll conducted Friday by Dan Jones & Associates shows 64 percent of Utahns agree with the premise of the compact calling for a civil and compassionate approach to immigration legislation in Utah. Twenty percent disagreed with that notion, while 18 percent didn't have an opinion. Jones surveyed 260 households statewide. The poll has plus or minus 5 percent error margin.

Gov. Gary Herbert did not sign the document. His spokeswoman, Angie Welling, issued a statement Friday saying the governor is "heartened that business, community and ecclesiastical leaders have come together to lend their voices to this effort." Herbert has stressed what he calls a "Utah solution" to the immigration problem.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday released a statement supporting the compact, saying "public officials should create and administer laws that reflect the best of our aspirations as a just and caring society. Such laws will properly balance love for neighbors, family cohesion, and the observance of just and enforceable laws."

About The Author

Charles Kuck is the Managing Partner of Kuck Immigration Partners LLC-The Immigration Law Firm, and oversees its nationwide immigration practice. His practice focuses on U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law and international migration matters. Mr. Kuck assists employers and employees with business and professional visas, labor certifications, immigrant visas, consular representation, and citizenship matters. Mr. Kuck also maintains an active Federal Court practice focusing on immigration issues.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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