A Pew Hispanic Center study released on August 12th, 2010 which shows that eight percent of babies born in the United States in 2008 were to families in which at least one parent was an illegal immigrant has triggered reaction from Utah political candidates and sitting lawmakers alike. Read the 11-page study HERE.
Both U.S. Senate candidates addressed the issue. Republican Mike Lee, who previously expressed support for legislation that would bar citizenship for babies not born to U.S. citizens, backed off that issue somewhat. Lee said "That study proves the seriousness and extent of the issues involved with illegal immigration...There are many difficult questions that need to be answered in regards to comprehensive immigration reform including what to do about ‘birthright citizenship.’ Doing nothing is no longer an option.” But one of Lee's published goals is still to "clarify the original intent of the citizenship clause through legislation specifying that children born to illegal alien parents in the United States are not entitled to automatic citizenship".
Democrat Sam Granato said the report was not surprising, and it shows that the Federal government has ignored the problem for far too long. But Granato says repealing the 14th Amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship, is too extreme an answer. Granato doesn't address immigration as a stand-alone issue on his website, but on July 22nd, the Salt Lake Tribune reported him as supporting heavy fines for businesses that continue to employ illegal immigrants, although he doesn’t want to hurt industries that have relied on migrant labor. Granato also expressed disagreement with any policy that would require all illegal immigrants to leave the nation, even if a member of their family is a citizen.
Perhaps more importantly, Utah State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem) entered the discussion. Sandstrom has crafted a 12-page bill to be publicly introduced on August 13th which will replicate many aspects of Arizona SB1070, but without the provisions which were recently struck down by a Federal judge in Arizona. Sandstrom discusses his approach on this KSL news video:
The three major elements previously cited:
-- It makes it a state crime to be in Utah without proper documents.
-- It requires police to check immigration status, but only of the driver of a pulled-over vehicle. Others in the vehicle could be questioned if suspected of illegal trafficking.
-- It would give state workers, like at the Department of Workforce Services, a way to report fraud -- like suspected use of false Social Security numbers.
However, Sandstrom emphasizes that law enforcement must suspect one has committed a separate offense before they question someone, and the bill will not deal with soliciting day laborers or having cars impounded if one is caught soliciting a day laborer. Nonetheless, even those concessions weren't sufficient to mollify advocates for illegal immigrants, who started yowling and spitting like feral cats once again. Archie Archuleta of the Utah Coalition of La Raza and Tony Yapias of Proyecto Latino de Utah held their own news conference at Centro Civico Mexicano to make an 11th-hour plea for political leaders to shelve plans for an Arizona-style law, warning that the measure will do nothing but inflame hatred and fear among Utahns. In addition, Yapias, being LDS, decided to play the Mormon card once again, saying that Sandstrom's effort runs counter to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and could taint the institution’s reputation.
Frankly, I prefer to take my cues about the teachings of the LDS Church from Thomas S. Monson rather than Tony Yapias.