Utah congressmen are faced with a decision to support immigration reform or not. Some in Congress have suggested that reform should be done in a comprehensive package, others are arguing for it to be done in parts. Either approach has its virtues and disadvantages.
No matter what approach is ultimately pursued, at a minimum Congress must do what the states are not authorized to do for themselves, and Congress should authorize states to determine their own best course of action in immigration matters Congress is unwilling to handle.
During the Utah State's 2011 General Legislative Session, SJR12 and HB116 were introduced. SJR12 called for Congress to swiftly reform immigration policies and laws to address immigration challenges confronting the nation or authorize the states to do what is necessary to manage the problems Congress is unwilling to confront. Of 104 Utah legislators, only two voted against the resolution.
HB116, "Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments," was also passed after a long and emotional debate. During the debate some suggested that parts of the legislation were unconstitutional, going beyond the state's authority to act; others disagreed.
In any event, HB116 was the Legislature's sincere attempt to manage and resolve problems exacerbated by congressional delinquency regarding immigration reform. In this year's general session, the Legislature delayed the enactment of HB116 in anticipation that Congress would reform immigration, making HB116 in whole or part unnecessary.
If Congress fails to reform immigration, Utah will be faced with trying to manage immigration problems not of its own making, potentially without the necessary authority to do so. This is an untenable position for Utah to be in.
It is completely irresponsible for Utah congressmen to ignore the needs of Utah, its people, families, businesses and agriculture by not reforming immigration, while simultaneously denying the state authority to confront the problems Congress refuses to address.
SJR12 declared: "Be it resolved that the Legislature of the state of Utah urges Utah's congressional delegation to sponsor and support legislation to resolve the immigration policy issues facing the nation . . . [and] the Legislature of the state of Utah urges that if the United States Congress does not have the collective will to resolve the immigration issues facing the nation and the states, that Congress should act to grant authority to the states to resolve the immigration policy challenges within their own borders."
Utah congressmen, please do not further neglect your duty to the people of Utah by abandoning immigration reform.
Stuart C. Reid is the Utah State Senate sponsor of HB116 and SJR12.