Utah governor signs Arizona-like immigration law

SALT LAKE CITY Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:33am EDT

Related Topics

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Utah's governor on Tuesday signed a package of immigration laws including one that would allow a police crackdown on illegal immigrants similar to Arizona's attempt last year.

The laws, approved by Utah's Republican-controlled legislature earlier this month, also would attempt to create a guest worker program.

Opponents of the bills rallied last week in downtown Salt Lake City in an effort to prevent their passage. Chanting and carrying signs that read "Don't Let Utah Become Another Arizona" and "Keep Families Together" the protesters urged lawmakers and the governor to stop the legislation.

"Utah did the right thing. We did the hard thing," Governor Gary Herbert said in signing the laws, which he called "the Utah solution."

The United States is struggling with 12 million illegal immigrants, many of them from Latin America, and growing anger among voters about the jobs they take.

U.S. immigration enforcement has shifted over the years, with the Obama administration choosing to crack down on employers rather than illegal workers themselves.

Herbert called on the federal government to follow Utah's model and enact reform of immigration laws.

But immigration experts said the new Utah laws, except for enforcement, are more show than substance.

"The guest worker stuff is entirely meaningless. It is like a college creating a nuclear free zone. It's meaningless. A state cannot create a guest worker program," said Steven Camarota, research director of the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies think-tank in Washington.

Analysts also are skeptical the package will influence policy in Washington, where Republicans who favor enforcement-only measures have control of the House of Representatives and a stronger hand in the Senate.

Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, said such laws put immigration back in focus.

"But the way forces are balanced in Washington, I don't think it's going to have any real effect on pushing through comprehensive immigration reform," he said.

Legal challenges are expected to a law requiring police to check the immigration status of people stopped for felonies.

That law is similar to one in Arizona that has been the target of a lawsuit by the administration of President Barack Obama.

Herbert hosted an immigration summit last year to lay the foundation for the forthcoming legislative session. The summit brought together religious, business, law enforcement and government leaders to tackle the issue.

"There are those who will say these bills may not be perfect but they are a step in the right direction and they are better than what we had," he said.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Tim Gaynor in Phoenix)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (7)
ww2kid8 wrote:
The best way to keep families together is for them all to go back together to where ever the first ones of them came from. If they snuck in here and then had children they can take their kids with them and go back. If they brought in grandma and grandpa and aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, whoever, they should all go back together. Keeping families together here is a good thing only if they’re all here legally.

Mar 16, 2011 3:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
What a poor choice of words… ‘the utah solution’? I guess they didnt know the term coined for hitler’s annihilation of the jews was called the ‘final solution’. Or did they? I’m all for correcting the immigration problem we have. Cracking down on the people that hire them is the best way. But, they also need to send any that they catch here back, I dont care if their kids were born here or not. If they are here illegally and have kids… to me everyone needs to go.

Mar 16, 2011 6:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BernardHickox wrote:
@fromthecenter … The writer of this article was very aware of the impact of his choice of words… The ultra-liberal main-stream-media is vehemently pro-illegal-immigration and will stoop to such anytime it serves their secular-humanist, cultural-Marxist agenda.

Mar 16, 2011 8:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.