Newsletter March 2011- Janus Legislation: The Two Faces of Immigration Reform


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It is apparently obvious that Immigration Reform will not happen in Washington D.C. in the current political climate. Therefore, individual states have taken up the matter. But with this comes a diverse scope of nationwide legislation that tries to address Immigration Reform. At one end, you have backward looking legislation, such as Arizona’s SB 1070, that is controversial and divisive and in no way helpful in addressing the issue of Immigration Reform. At the other end, you have laws passed by the Utah legislature, HB116, a guest-worker bill, HB497, the enforcement-only measure and HB466, a migrant-worker bill designed to bridge HB116 and HB497.

The difference between the two approaches is simple. The path taken by Arizona law is stringent and non-compromising. It is seen as divisive and non-tolerant, with no middle ground. The path taken by Utah, while not perfect with the inclusion of bill HB497, is one that tries to reach a compromise between the conservatives and liberals, creating a foundation from which proponents of true Immigration Reform can build upon.

Utah’s approach looks at the humanitarian disaster that would occur if undocumented workers were to be deported en masse. By offering work permits to those individuals, the state would not only help their future economic outlook but it would also create the ethical approach that other states would use as a template to work from.

But whatever individual states decide to do, immigration is a federal issue. It is the responsibility of the U.S. Congress and the White House to work together to come up with true Immigration Reform. Without federal laws in place, there will always be at least two faces to Immigration Reform – Arizona’s and Utah’s. Our leaders must do what is right and not what seems to be politically popular nor fearing that they will be voted out of office. We look to our leaders to lead and to do what is right and make the tough decisions, even though those decisions may be unpopular. Immigration Reform is a civil rights issue and it is the right thing to do.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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