Three of Utah’s most visible Republicans have expressed their opinions about President’s Obama’s new immigration policy. The policy allows law enforcement to focus on illegal immigrants charged with a crime or with a criminal history and their deportation. People here illegally with no criminal record, are in school, have family in the military or are a primary caregiver can stay. The administration is putting a hold on deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis.
At his monthly news conference last Thursday at KUED in Salt Lake City, Utah Governor Gary Herbert-R called the President’s plan “de facto amnesty,” and it welcomes lawbreakers to the state. Herbert said it is nothing like Utah’s HB116, the legislation he signed in March that allows people without legal status to live and work in the state as long as they register and pay a fine. Herbert said he was surprised by Obama’s position, and worries “that it’s more about politics than principle.”
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff-R praised Obama’s plan, and said it was aligned with Utah policy. He said, “Our resources are not best used in this country, either nationally, on a statewide level or local level to go after those who are otherwise law-abiding citizens.” Shurtleff also said the tea party approach to immigration of rounding them up and sending them home is unworkable, unrealistic, and damaging to the Republican Party.
Representative Chris Herrod-R, Provo, who led the opposition to HB116 in the legislature earlier this year and helped convince Utah republicans at the state convention to pass a resolution to recall the legislation, considers both plans amnesty. He maintains Obama’s plan goes against the rule of law, while HB116 requires the authority of federal law not held by Utah. HB116 would require a federal waiver.
Herrod disagrees with Shurtleff’s approach as he believes it ignores existing laws. By allowing discretion, Herrod says it makes Shurtleff “judge, jury and king.”
Add in the position of Salt Lake City based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – all three republican leaders are members of the Church as well as more than 70 percent of the Utah Legislature – and there is further erosion. The LDS Church wants a compassionate way of dealing with illegal immigrants. Church leadership has supported HB116 and the Utah Compact: a kinder, gentler immigration policy that won‘t separate families.
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Source: Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, Washington Times
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