FLAGGED BILL: HJR 1 – Joint Resolution Expressing Support for the Utah Compact, Rep. Lynn Hemingway

democrat representative lynn hemingway
Rep Lynn Hemingway (D)

In the fall of 2010, The Utah Compact was released to the public. Widely regarded as a groundbreaking agreement between Utah’s Latino, business, religious, and political communities, it is designed to provide a road map for what immigration policy should (and should not) look like in the state of Utah. More specifically, The Compact was in direct response to an upcoming bill proposal from (now former) state representative Stephen Sandstrom, HB 70, an Arizona-style immigration bill that was panned by the public and eventually died in the 2011 legislative session.

To paraphrase The Compact’s five simple tenants:

1) The solution to the immigration issue is, fundamentally, a federal issue.
2) Law enforcement should focus on criminal activity, not civil violations of federal law.
3) Maintaining a family is more important than unnecessarily dismantling them.
4) Immigrants play a vital role in our economy, and welcoming immigrants welcomes prosperity.
5) We must be realistic and humane in how we approach immigration issues.

The Utah Compact, however, is not law – it is not even considered the general policy of the State of Utah. After the failure of HB 70, former Representative Sandstrom introduced a slightly watered down version of the same bill, this time titled HB 497, which successfully passed in 2011. Also making it through the legislature that year was HB 116 from former-Representative Bill Wright and Senator Stuart Reid, commonly known as the Guest Worker Law. HB 116 follows more closely to the principles of the Utah Compact, offering undocumented workers the possibility of attaining work visas if they voluntarily give their names to the state, submit to background checks, and pay a hefty fine.

However, even with those two ideologically opposed laws on the books, the Utah State Legislature has remained officially silent on the Utah Compact itself, neither officially accepting or rejecting its guiding principles. Last year, both House and Senate majority leadership refused to allow any immigration bills see the light of day – widely seen as a move designed to both prevent controversy while most were running for reelection, and to keep Utah immigration policy out of the national media spotlight during Mitt Romney’s presidential run. But for the 2013 session, all bets are back on the table, with the more extreme end of the Republican party calling for a complete repeal of the Guest Worker law and implementing Arizona-style enforcement. With all parties watching closely, it was only a matter of time until someone pulled the trigger on the first shot.

Representative Lynn Hemingway (Democrat, SLC, District 40) has launched the opening immigration debate salvo with HJR 1 – Joint Resolution Expressing Support for the Utah Compact.

To put it simply, HJR 1 would formally declare that the Utah State Legislature supports the Utah Compact and the principals within it and, at least in theory, set the general policy of the Utah State Legislature when approaching immigration issues.

In past years, the success of such a resolution would have been a mere pipe-dream, but  with a large (and potentially more moderate) freshman class entering the legislature this session, it is possible that this resolution could get some traction. This fact, combined with the numerous political, religious, and social figures currently supporting the Utah Compact, and the fact that The Compact is not in itself immigration policy, but rather a set of principles – this resolution has a shot of actually making it through.

The Utah Compact would serve the state as a solid foundation with which to build immigration policy; it is both reasonable and forward thinking. The Legislature would serve itself well to adopt this resolution. Here at UPC, we’re ranking HJR 1 as high as we can (overall) because we believe that the topic of immigration needs to always be handled with respect, and with an understanding of the real lives and families any decision will directly impact. We applaud Representative Hemingway for taking the initiative, not to alter any laws, but for setting the proper tone for the discussion.

To contact Rep. Hemingway, Click Here

Impact on Average Utahn:

High Impact   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   No Impact


Necessary   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0  Unnecessary

Overall Ranking:

Great Bill  5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5  Poor Bill

2 Replies to “FLAGGED BILL: HJR 1 – Joint Resolution Expressing Support for the Utah Compact, Rep. Lynn Hemingway

  1. We already have many illegal immigrants in our state. These immigrants enjoy more of the programs, than Utah Citizens do. They are first in line for free school lunches, medical assistance, and job opportunities, than we are. They can go to the hospitals, and have their babies at no cost to them, plus have follow up care, again at no cost. In other words you are treating them better than the Utah Citizens who pay for services. Incident I’d like to share with you, my mother, a white Utah Citizen, had a stroke, the emergency doctors could not verify that it was a stroke, and said it was vertigo. Myself, and my husband pleaded with the hospital emergency personnel to admit her for observation. We were refused. My husband said to them, if this was an illegal would we be having this conversation, they said the illegal would have been admitted, but since my mother did not have the right insurance, she could not be admitted. We then offered to pay for her to be admitted overnight, they again refused. Long story short, my mother had a series of strokes that night, and was never able to eat, walk, and her speech was slurred. This time, we took her to the same hospital, and they found that indeed she could not swallow food, which she had told them in the emergency examination room, and that indeed, she had had a stroke. She had surgery to have a tube inserted through her nose to connect with her stomach, but she was still having the same problems. She was then sent to a Nursing Home, where she died 10 days later. Tell me why my mother, born in Utah, a working tax paying citizen, is treated worse than an illegal immigrant coming into our state. THIS IS THE KIND OF TREATMENT TO YOUR UTAH CITIZENS, THAT HAVE US FRUSTRATED. We feel that we, the natural born Utah citizens are treated worse, than the illegal immigrants. It takes our tax dollars to give these so called unearned entitlements to the illegals, and yet we are turned away on a regular basis. When the illegals come across our borders, they should have jobs lined up, and employers to help them.
    More responsibility should be placed on the employer, and less on Utah Citizens. I also believe they should be treated the same. No great entitlements, just survival needs. If illegals cannot make a living here, they should return home. I do not go to their country expecting a handout. Treat us all fairly, what you can give to the illegals, you should be able to give to your tax paying, voting citizens! Yes, I will be monitoring your votes on illegal immigrants, and will keep the many people I know that feel the same informed, so that we can vote accordingly!

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