Now that the full economic impact of Arizona’s SB 1070 is becoming clear, other states that had considered taking up similar immigration measures are having second thoughts. Take Utah, for example, where a number of state and local governments, corporations, businesses, community and faith groups are promoting the Utah Compact- a declaration of principles they hope will guide Utah’s immigration discussion.
The Utah Compact, which has among its most vocal backers the Mormon Church, acknowledges that:
immigration is a federal policy issue
local law enforcement should go after dangerous criminals
family immigration is important
immigrants add to the local economy
Utah should welcome immigrants
This is a far cry from the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, previously the only pending piece of immigration legislation and one that is largely modeled after Arizona’s law. In short, the IEA is a bill that would require Utah police to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is undocumented.
The broad coalition of support for the Utah Compact is significant, not just because it brings together power brokers in Utah politics like the LDS and business leaders, but because it reflects a certain economic honesty in the immigration debate. State and local governments simply do not have the resources required to go on immigrant witch hunts, nor do they have the economic security to withstand blistering economic boycotts.
The Utah Compact reflects both a moral position–that immigrants should be welcomed and that there is a proper way to deal with undocumented persons–and a fiscal position–that immigration is in fact healthy for a vibrant economy that needs to drive the debate over immigration reform. For too long the voices of fear and demagoguery have shouted over voices of reason. Kudos to the business and faith leaders in the state of Utah for recognizing the need to change both the focus and the tone of immigration reform.
photo courtesy of Barnaby via Flickr