Immigration: Will Utah Follow Arizona’s Lead?

Jeanette Moses, Time, October 1, 2010

With an eye to the example of Arizona, Utah, which may have upwards of 110,000 undocumented aliens, may be taking the issue of illegal immigration into its own hands. Earlier this week, a group of 12 Utah legislators from the house and senate (three Democrats and nine Republicans) traveled to their controversial neighbor to the south to learn more about the impact of passing statewide immigration reforms.

The two-day trip, which the lawmakers paid for themselves, consisted of meetings with Arizona officials, business leaders, religious communities, heads of the public school system and, unsurprisingly, border-patrol agents. According to senate president Michael Waddoups, who was among the group, Utah legislators took note of the popular support for Arizona’s controversial legislation. “They’re trying to represent what the people want them to,” says Waddoups. “That’s American politics at its best–representing the constituents.”

The trip comes approximately a month after Utah Representative Stephen Sandstrom released a draft of his Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act. The bill, likely to be just the first of many immigration bills headed for the January legislative session, is modeled on the Arizona law. {snip}

While Sandstrom says his bill has widespread support, it is already proving to be divisive, even within his party. Michael Clara, the state chair of the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly, says the bill is part of a witch hunt and takes issue with it on a variety of grounds: for violating the Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches, for its negative economic impact and for the fact that it punishes a single group of people and not the many others who are complicit in creating the current problem with undocumented workers. “We put the ‘No Trespassing’ sign at the border, and right behind, we put the ‘Help Wanted’ sign,” Clara says.

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Other Utah legislators worry that the bill will be too costly. {snip}

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