Utah’s Backdoor Amnesty Puts the Nation on High Illegal Immigration Alert

Published on March 21st, 2011

Early last week, CAPS issued a legislative alert urging concerned Americans to reject Utah Republican governor Gary Herbert’s backdoor amnesty. Despite the efforts of many, however, on March 15 Herbert signed a series of four dangerous and foolish immigration bills. With the support of the Chamber of Commerce, religious and business leaders as well as several pro-amnesty lobbyists, Herbert approved bills that would among other things create a new guest worker program to permit illegals and their families (with no stated limit on the numbers of persons) to reside in Utah; establish a migrant worker partnership with Mexico, allow businesses to recruit workers directly from Mexico (and thereby pass over unemployed Utahns) and permit any Utah resident to “sponsor” a “family” of illegal immigrants to join them in Utah but without defining whether that is immediate or extended family or if there is any cap on family reunification. One of Herbert’s bills makes a gratuitous reference to immigration enforcement but it’s impossible to take that seriously when the bulk of the Utah measures guarantee more illegal immigration. Referring to his brazen measures as the “Utah Solution,” Herbert prides himself on having done the “right thing.” Herbert’s actions are the type of madness that only a newly elected politician could gamble on. In a special election held in 2010, Herbert won two more years, the remaining period of outgoing governor Jon Huntsman’s term. Huntsman resigned in August to become the U.S. Ambassador to China. For Herbert, two years won’t be long enough to appease furious Utahns. GOP delegates gathered 4,500 signatures urging the governor to veto the bill. And Arturo Morales-Llan, a GOP delegate and founder of Legal Immigrants for Illegal Immigration Enforcement, said in a statement that Herbert’s signature of H.B.116 [the guest worker bill] “is the worst insult the legal residents of Utah have ever received by their sitting governor. H.B. 116 is typical Washington-style politics and we condemn its practice by our elected officials. This new law puts a stamp of approval on illegal immigration and those who come into this country illegally. This fatally flawed law confirms that Utah is a sanctuary state.” For those of us who have studied immigration politics for decades, we know that Utah’s bills put the rest of the nation (especially the Southwest) on high illegal alien alert. Herbert may welcome illegal immigrants into Utah and provide them with sanctuary. But nothing stops them from moving to California or any other state where they may have ties or job prospects. I’ve always been fascinated by Utah and its on again, off again waffling on illegal immigration. The state once had the notorious U.S. Representative Chris Cannon, a Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund award winner (“Excellence in Leadership”) and one of the original backers of Utah’s driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, in-state tuition and acceptance of the matricula consular card. Finally, after six terms of non-stop pandering to illegal aliens, Republicans booted Cannon out in the 2008 primary. Senator Orrin Hatch, another one-time illegal immigration advocate who actually coined the term “DREAM Act” back in 2003, suddenly shifted gears and denounced it late in the 111th Congress. But guess what may have motivated his change of heart?  Hatch is up for reelection in 2012. My advice to Herbert is that he enjoy his time in the governor’s mansion. Herbert and Cannon are soon to have a shared experience: both ousted in a primary because they betrayed their constituents on immigration.

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