Thursday, February 21, 2008

Utah Legislature Rethinks Hardline Strategy

Last week, Wyoming was on track to approve a package of hardlined anti-migrant legislation, but the measure was ultimately defeated by political pressure to take a more humane approach to reform - one that incorporates human rights and economic concerns into the fold as deliberations are made. The same type of political push-back appears to have also worked in Utah, for the time being.
Senators are reworking parts of a comprehensive immigration package to make the measure more palatable to the business community and religious leaders, its sponsor said Tuesday.

Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, said he pushed back the Senate debate on his SB81 -- scheduled Tuesday -- until Thursday because some of the refinements to his anti-illegal immigration bill are still being made.

"We're trying to get this bill to be a reasonable piece of legislation that is [as] business friendly as possible and yet maintains the standards we have set forth in the bill and I think we are at that point now," Hickman said.

The revised measure would be a far cry from the original version modeled after an Oklahoma immigration law described as one of the toughest in the nation.

The changes would include revisions requested by leaders from several churches, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that protect the church from liability if they provide food, clothing and other charitable or humanitarian services to undocumented immigrants.

What we are starting to see on the state level is coalition building among pro-migrant forces that can be more effective when it comes to driving the agenda of local legislators. Groups of human rights advocates, churches, business leaders, ethnic equality committees, etc. are learning to use their voices in concert that prevent disastrous effects like we're seeing here in the Grand Canyon State.

PHOENIX — The signs of flight among Latino immigrants here are multiple: Families moving out of apartment complexes, schools reporting enrollment drops, business owners complaining about fewer clients.

While it is too early to know for certain, a consensus is developing among economists, business people and immigration groups that the weakening economy coupled with recent curbs on illegal immigration are steering Hispanic immigrants out of the state.


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