HB116 repeal would be bad for Utah

Recently, the Salt Lake County GOP proposed repealing HB116, Utah’s guest worker law. The Alliance for a Better UTAH believes that doing so would be bad for Utah.

There are two reasons to repeal HB116. First, it may be unconstitutional. Second, it is unlikely that Utah will obtain the necessary federal waivers necessary to implement the program.

Nevertheless, we must remember that HB116 was among several bills passed that, together, address the principles of the Utah Compact and provide a “Utah solution” to comprehensive, state-based immigration reform, an approach endorsed by the Legislature, the Governor, the Chamber of Commerce and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In response to the argument that HB116 is unconstitutional, we argue this: so are all of the bills passed that form a part of this comprehensive solution. If these laws are unconstitutional – because immigration is a federal matter under the Constitution – then all of these laws should fail, not just HB116.

The Utah Legislature, however, was determined to pass an immigration law and the argument that immigration is a federal matter was not carrying the debate. Utah was headed toward Rep. Stephen Sandstrom’s Arizona copycat, enforcement-only bill. Thus, the addition of HB116 and its companion bills, unconstitutional or not, gave reason to see Utah as rejecting the Arizona solution. In response to this comprehensive approach, Utah is being seen instead as a place of innovation and other states and the federal government are carefully examining our comprehensive approach.

Were the Legislature to repeal HB116 alone, our “comprehensive” approach to immigration would degrade toward what would be harder to distinguish from the Arizona enforcement-only approach. That result would have dire…

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