Utah takes a surprisingly moderate approach toward immigration.
By Joseph Ellis
Count me as among the surprised by the recent immigration bill passed in Utah (HB116). The tone in this state has always been negative toward illegal immigrants (overwhelmingly Hispanic) ever since I can remember; but this year has been especially so. After the initial shock that our nation had just elected a Democratic President with a weird name and people made a run at the gun stores (certain all guns would be banned within the month), the gravity of our economic situation began to set in. As our country has done time and time again in difficult periods, many people in our state began to turn their frustrations toward the immigrant population here. Anger and frustration really seemed to reach a tipping point this last summer with dueling protests staging demonstrations in Salt Lake City, often on the same day. While I agree the situation is difficult, the solution cannot be rounding all illegal immigrants up and sending them to their countries of origin. It is too vast, and too complex a problem for a solution like this (although, I’m sure there are plenty of people in Utah willing to volunteer their time to do just this).
The astonishing thing was that the newly elected state government (almost entirely Republican) did a very sensible thing. Especially considering other recent legislation, such as recognizing a state gun! They created a think tank for the issue and came up with HB116 that has en element of enforcement, but also creates a path toward working in the state legally. This is a huge milestone, and quite frankly one most people expected from a state run by wild haired liberals, not one of the most conservative states in the union; which is probably why the Tea Party folks here are furious with their recently elected officials.
It’s just refreshing to see representatives in government taking a calm approach to a difficult topic and recognizing the humanity in the midst of it.