Key members of Utah’s business and faith communities are traveling to Washington, D.C. this morning to meet with Utah’s congressional delegation to discuss the economic virtues of passing meaningful, bipartisan immigration reform this year. They, along with more than 600 leaders from around the country, will convene for an event that is being called “Americans for Reform: Immigration Reform for our Economy, Faith and Security.”
Members of Utah’s delegation include former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff; Christine Watkins, a former member the Utah Legislature; Jason Mathis, executive vice president of the Salt Lake Chamber and executive director of the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance; Todd Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association; Randy Parker, CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation; Melva Sine, president and CEO of the Utah Restaurant Association; and Stan Lockhart, former chair of the Utah Republican Party.
They plan to advocate for, among other things, increased access to high-skill visas, easing the process to obtain low-skill temporary visas, increased border security, an “E-Verify” verification process for employers, and an equitable solution for addressing currently undocumented immigrants, especially those who were brought to the United States as minors.
Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff had strong words for members of Congress prior to leaving Utah Monday. “Now is the time to adopt bipartisan sensible immigration reform that promotes national security, keeps families together, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and protects human dignity,” said Shurtleff. “For the good of our economy and the immigrant population in Utah, I would urge our leaders in Washington to move legislation forward in order to achieve progress on this critical issue.”
Utah has been on the front lines of immigration reform in recent years when, in 2011, lawmakers were debating if the state should follow an immigration reform path similar to the controversial Arizona law, SB1070, which drew national and international attention for its reforms that some on the left felt were too extreme. Ultimately, however, Utah took a different route, opting to adopt many of the tenants of the Utah Compact. Though many on the right felt the Compact was too forgiving to undocumented workers and many on the left felt it was too restrictive, the majority of policymakers and Utahns hailed the bills resulting from the Compact as a blueprint for bipartisanship on immigration reform.