In trying to recast Utah immigration law in his own image, Rep. Chris Herrod of Provo has cooked up an incomprehensible hash -- HB 300 -- that is nothing if not indefensible. Herrod and anti-immigrant puppeteer Ronald Mortensen style the bill as an improvement to "repeal and replace" last year's LDS Church-supported HB 116, which was signed into law. The claim of improvement alone is enough to make the Angel Moroni throw down his trumpet in disgust.
It doesn't offer any practical solutions for the very real issues presented by immigrants among us. It only proves that anti-immigrant activists are relentless.
HB 300 is a grandiose do-nothing bill, requiring -- among its massive strike-outs of existing law and inventive new passages -- that Utah hold off until Congress acts and "the president of the United States has signed into law amendments to federal immigration and other relevant federal statutes." To make sure that happens, HB 300 ferociously requires the Utah Department of Public Safety "send a letter to Utah's congressional delegation regarding the need for federal action."
Oh, boy, now that's a whip. The content of this letter is dictated by a full page of detailed text in HB 300. We pour out our souls to our senators and representatives, the same ones who have been so successful in getting Congress to enact national immigration reform. Surely a strongly-worded letter will create new momentum in a realm that Congress has willfully neglected for half a century.
HB 300 goes on ad nauseam. Among its major gaps: It utterly fails to address the centerpiece of anti-immigrant rhetoric of recent years -- identity theft. Without opening that dubious argument in light of today's highly effective IRS cross-checks, let us sum up: If there is widespread identity theft, last year's HB 116 shuts it down. The law passed last year also creates a humane and realistic series of reforms across a broad spectrum, which is why it was praised so highly by church and civic leaders.
Looking ahead, there seems little appetite in the Utah Legislature for opening this subject afresh this session, and the radicals know it. That's why their efforts will focus more on the coming election. Mortensen colleague Keri Witte laid it out: "You can repeal or replace the bill or we can repeal and replace the legislators."
That is why Utahns -- especially Republican ones -- need to turn out in force to their neighborhood caucuses this year to prevent a hostile takeover of the electoral process by this small but highly motivated negative faction. It's a faction that will attempt to eliminate the best and brightest in the Utah Legislature. And if it succeeds, Utah will be led down the wrong road.