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Real Immigration Reform!

Believe it or not, real immigration reform has been achieved in America. The bill includes a liberal guest worker program that grants legal status to undocumented workers, so they can live relatively normal lives. Some people have called that “amnesty”.

But what is truly amazing is that this bill is set to become law in Utah, one of the reddest and most conservative states in the union. The state legislature, which passed the bill, is overwhelmingly Republican, and the Republican governor is expected to sign the bill. The bill’s chief sponsor is Bill Wright, a Republican who is as hard core conservative as they get. What happened?

A milestone in setting the stage for Wright’s legislation was the “Utah Compact,” a pithy declaration of reform principles drafted last fall by business leaders and conservative elites, who feared Utah would follow in Arizona’s footsteps and risk losing tens of millions of dollars in tourism and convention business, as Arizona did. The compact helped swing public opinion in Utah away from the illegal-immigrant bashers who admired Arizona’s law.

“They’ve had their 15 minutes in the media and now the adults are going to start talking about how to handle matters,” said Paul Mero, executive director of Utah’s most prominent conservative think tank, the Sutherland Institute, who helped draft the compact. “We’ve been able to break through that political barrier put up by the wing nuts who see every brown person as a criminal.”

The Utah conservatives managed to reframe immigration as an economic issue, pointing out that deporting all the illegal aliens would destroy their economy. Not only that, but it would break up families, and conservatives are supposed to be pro-family.

Ironically, at the national level, the Republicans are still the Party of No. None of Utah’s congressional delegation (including the senators) support the bill. They are still too busy using immigration reform as a wedge issue — playing politics instead of solving our national problems. In a stunning hypocritical flip flop, John McCain even turned against an immigration reform bill he helped write in 2007.

But I applaud the conservatives and Republicans in Utah who courageously got this sensible bill passed.

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6 Comments

  1. Jeff wrote:

    This program is similar to what the U.S. has done on a federal level with Jamaicans for years. They allow them to come for the growing season, send the money to their families back home so they can’t build up a savings account and then leave, and then send them back. The ones who behave well are offered positions the next year, so there is an incentive for keeping out of trouble.

    I’ve always wondered why they didn’t expand this program, but it sounds like a similar plan is about to be started in Utah. I hope it turns into a national movement, and that we see some real progress

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink
  2. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    It’s all well and good until the beheadings start!

    ;)

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Its unfortunate that there will be no conversation about immigration reform until after the debt ceiling, and budget debates are done. Then in 2012 both sides will bring up the issue in sound bites for election purposes.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  4. Don wrote:

    I must be in a very cynical mood, PSgt, but I predict that what happens with regards to immigration reform won’t be a conversation at all. A conversation requires 2 or more folks involved in both speaking and listening and trying to understand. I see virtually none of that sort of behavior going on with our elected officials. Oh, and I don’t think the budget debate will end anytime soon.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hey cynics, I was trying to be encouraging to the Conservatives and Republicans. I really do think it is a great thing they did in Utah. And it wasn’t all that long ago that Republicans like McCain were all for immigration reform. Maybe if we give as much publicity to what is happening in Utah as we did to what happened in Arizona, then real change might happen.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Then Holder will take them to court(LOL)not. I agree though in principle and it might also be worth getting Bush 43 involved to advocate, since this sounds vey similar to what he proposed while in office. Don, I unfortunately agree with your analogy. What was I thinking, the chances of Dems and Reps sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya are about as statistically possible as finding intelligent life on the moon. :)

    Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink