Important issues were discussed at the Utah immigration round table at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City today.
Issues discussed included economics: the need for legal immigrant workers and the participation of government and private business in verification of their status. How workers can enter, work, leave and return to employment in the United States. There was a discussion of amnesty, and how a guest worker program could avoid being considered amnesty. The role of the federal government was discussed, and the Governor stressed a need for a Utah solution, but many believe it must start at a federal level.
Legal issues like probable cause and the problem with the Arizona law were also discussed. A discussion of what is probable cause – is it a cracked windshield that gets someone pulled over is it a Latino getting pulled over and the officer needed a reason to do it. There were discussions of no funding for a law like Arizona’s – enforcement costs, imprisonment costs, legal costs. How can the police determine immigrant status without observing behavior rather than a definite criminal act? Unless the police ask everyone their legal status, it becomes profiling. How can we deal with people who are here compassionately and legally, and deal with those who live and work by breaking the law aggressively?
This is the beginning of a long, complicated, and emotional process. By taking the high road, Utah hopes to set an example for the rest of the country to stress the importance of the federal government, law enforcement, and individual residents who need to find a solution to a very complex problem. If people can listen to each other, learn from each other, and get to know each other, the discussion can continue, and answers can be found.
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