STATEMENT: CAP Action’s Angela M. Kelley Speaks on Utah’s Immigration Legislation
Washington, D.C. — Angela Maria Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, issued the following statement on the enactment of immigration legislation in Utah:
Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) signed a remarkable package of immigration bills into law yesterday that attempt to deal realistically with illegal immigration in Utah. These policies move well beyond Arizona’s heavy-handed “attrition through enforcement” law that the Justice Department is challenging in federal court.
Utah’s measure does contain tough enforcement provisions that are overbroad and counterproductive. But it also includes groundbreaking proposals designed to enable Utah to issue work permits to its undocumented residents and create a new temporary worker program.
Utah, the most uniformly Republican and most conservative state in the country, struggled to devise tough but practical solutions to its immigration challenges. We strongly applaud the state’s business, religious, and political leaders who forced the discussion to move beyond sound bites.
Nevertheless, we believe Utah’s and Arizona’s policies fail to pass constitutional muster because they invade the federal government’s policy arena. We also have serious substantive concerns with the measures. The enforcement provisions, for example, will undermine relations between police and the community and encourage racial profiling.
But we should not underestimate the profound significance of Utah’s bills. Republican elected officials in Utah acted while Republican elected officials in Washington continue to block action. The public wants serious solutions to important problems and Utah is trying to force the federal government to deliver.
"Part of the overall strategy here is to, in fact, force the federal government to engage," Herbert said. "They’ve been on the sidelines way too long. They need to get in the game."
We couldn’t agree more.