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Paul Rolly: Why we need immigration reform in the U.S.

Published January 29, 2013 1:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Driving to work the morning after the huge Sunday night snowstorm, I witnessed a scene that caught my attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the politically divisive topic of immigration reform.

In front of the Marriott SpringHill Suites on 300 West between 600 and 700 South, I noticed two Hispanic gentlemen shoveling deep snow off the sidewalk.

As I thought about it, especially the importance of the SpringHill job the Hispanic men were doing that morning, it occurred to me that I seldom see Hispanics holding signs asking for handouts.

I often see workers along the side of the road doing manual labor like snow shoveling, lawn or tree trimming and ditch digging. They often are Hispanic. Also, the men standing at the entrances and exits of Home Depot parking lots hoping to be hired for day jobs, not looking for handouts, are often Hispanic, and I would guess a number of them are undocumented.

The point is that most of the folks in the center of the debate about whether we should give undocumented residents in this country a path to citizenship, and their children who have lived all their lives in the U.S. a chance at success, are among the hardest-working people around.

Yet we see our own Sen. Mike Lee backing out of the Senate working group on immigration reform because he says its plan includes amnesty. It doesn't. Paying a fine and back taxes, and jumping through several legal hoops, including learning about the U.S. government and also English, is not amnesty. What the reform does is bring 11 million people out of the shadows and allow them to do what they are already doing, only legally.

A bit of history • Most of those people opposed to any immigration reform that includes a guest worker permit or a path to citizenship often cite President Ronald Reagan as their political hero and the father of modern conservatism.

Well, Reagan signed the bill that gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in 1986 (Reagan, as a former president, also wrote a letter in support of the 1994 assault weapons ban, but that is a subject for another column). And guess who Reagan's solicitor general was? The well-respected and much-loved Rex Lee, who eventually became president of Brigham Young University. He was the father of Sen. Mike Lee.

Church and state • It's a safe bet that most of the members of the Utah Sheriffs Association who support the position that sheriffs will not enforce federal firearms laws are members of Utah's predominant religion.

So, too, are the Utah legislators considering legislation that would have local police arrest federal agents trying to enforce the law.

So perhaps they should push for an amendment to the LDS Church's 12th Article of Faith: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law," adding "except those laws we oppose."

What's good for the goose … • A few years ago, members of the Minutemen, a group dedicated to running out of the country anyone who isn't documented, demanded their LDS Church leaders strip ward assignments from any church members who couldn't prove citizenship because of their violation of the 12th Article of Faith.

The church itself would have none of that jingoism, by the way.

The Minutemen are of the same ilk as the chest beaters who advocate arresting people for enforcing federal gun laws.

So where's the call for their discipline?

prolly@sltrib.com