Illegal immigration


The federal government has acknowledged that it has serious problems associated with illegal immigration. Some lawmakers point to the costs of educating and providing health care to undocumented immigrants. Others point out that while the majority of illegal immigrants just want to earn money for their families, the border issues reflect an overall problem with security.
And the U.S. Justice Department has taken legal action against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah.
While there is agreement that there is a problem, lawmakers at the federal level continue to sit on the sidelines instead of coping with the issue. Meanwhile, state legislatures across the country continue to take actions in an attempt to deal with the more than 15 million illegal immigrants believed to be in the country.
In Utah’s legislative session, several reforms already have been introduced to a controversial immigration law scheduled to take effect July 1, 2013. Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and Sen Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, each have proposed changes to House Bill 116, which was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert. Urquhart’s bill would toss out the guest worker and driving privilege card provisions. Robles’ bill would target people who fraudulently promise assistance with receiving guest-worker permits that don’t yet exist.
The legislation proposed by these two lawmakers show how complicated the issue is. With people trying to obtain at least some form of legal work, there is a very real threat of exploitation. And the guest worker program and driver privilege cards put the state in the business of handling immigration issues that really are the purview of the federal government. Urquhart is probably correct when he says HB-116 is unconstitutional.
The legislation proposed by these two lawmakers also shows how much the federal government has let down the state of Utah and the rest of the nation. A lot of lip service has been given to the issue by politicians running for the U.S. House and Senate. But they have done very little to address the problem. Then, when states try to take action, they are threatened by the same federal government that has failed to address the issue.
Some voters would like to see a mass deportation process that ships millions of people back to their native countries. That’s probably not going to happen, particularly given the costs involved.
Some voters would like to see mass amnesty for people already in the country. That’s also unlikely because taxpayers do have expenses associated with illegal immigrants and because of the nation’s struggling economy and the competition for jobs.
So during this political season, ask questions of the people running for the U.S. House and Senate. Ask what they think about illegal immigration and how they would deal with it. If they are incumbents or have served in some other elected office, ask how they have dealt with the problem – not their ideas, but real actions.
States have been put in a terrible position because of inaction in Washington, D.C. It’s only fair that people who want to serve in these offices share how they would start addressing the problem instead of letting it continue to get worse.

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