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Robles seeks GOP backing for immigration bill

Published February 15, 2011 9:36 pm

SB60 • Senate Democrat foresees millions in state revenue should the legislation pass.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sen. Luz Robles will unveil the fiscal note to her immigration reform bill Wednesday to the House Republican Caucus that, according to legislative analysts, would generate $11.3 million in revenue during the first six months after it is enacted and $20 million the following year.

Those figures are only tax revenues generated from workers, Robles said, and don't include the bill's fees for accountability cards that must be purchased by undocumented people in Utah. The fiscal note indicates that revenues for the cards could reach as high as $18 million on top of the tax revenues.

The Salt Lake City Democrat is attempting to woo Republicans with SB60 by showing it also has a tough enforcement component, coupled with an accountability-card system that would allow employers to hire undocumented workers, give them a taxpayer identification number and bring them out from the shadows.

The revenues, based on registering 60,000 undocumented people in Utah, would also be enhanced by a $500 registration fee for the accountability card. The cost to the state for them — per individual — would be $173. There would be a family discount in registering for the card.

The Robles bill is awaiting assignment to a committee for a hearing.

By meeting with the House Republicans, supporters of the Robles bill are hopeful the fiscal note — along with provisions for restitution for victims of identity theft and requirements for applicants of accountability cards to learn English — will sway them to support the measure.

Robles picked up a some help when freshman Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, signed on as the House sponsor.

Sutherland Institute President Paul Mero, who championed the bill, said the idea to earmark 20 percent of the revenue from the bill to go to the Attorney General's Office for restitution to those who are victims of identity theft, came out of a meeting with Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

But Ron Mortensen, co-founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, said the bill was pointless.

"It's another bill that has no chance of going into effect and is nothing more than a veiled attempt to stop all immigration reform in Utah," he said.

The bill would require a federal waiver to be enacted, and critics have noted that, without such a waiver, it would be unconstitutional.

However, Robles said she thought the bill was "creative and innovative enough" to work.

"I'm not sure the federal government wouldn't be open to offering a waiver on something like this — a creative approach that allows the states to be laboratories for solutions," she said.