Daily Fix, Feb 23

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Entitlement reform, immigration, DOMA and government regulation of reincarnation. Seriously.

*Wisconsin runaway Senators put spotlight on the state that got it right – Utah. Last year’s pension reforms have become model legislation across the nation. Senator Dan Liljenquist quotes John Kenneth Galbraith in saying: “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” Wisconsin shows what can happen when you put off the unpalatable. Sen Liljenquist // KSL

*Speaking of Senator Liljenquist, his Medicaid reform bill passed out of the Senate unanimously on both the second and third readings. It is expected to pass through the House with little opposition. Trib

*Showing China totally gets the proper role of government, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” HuffPo

*President Obama has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that parts of the law are unconstitutional. Attorney General Eric Holder has been asked to no longer argue in support of DOMA, saying there is not a “reasonable” argument for the federal government to defend. “While both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court,” Holder said. The Hill

*Falling into the category of “politics make strange bedfellows,” the Utah House passed Rep Bill Wright’s proposed guest worker program on the heels of passing the Sandstrom bill. It was an interesting discussion, as this time, Democrats stood to speak in favor of pushing the feds and wondering “Where’s the Line” and some of the most conservative legislators pointed out we were poking the feds in the eye. On a personal note, I voted for this bill. I also voted for the Sandstrom bill. Neither one is perfect, but I am also VERY uncomfortable with “enforcement only” and in the end, had to agree with Rep Wright that this is a starting point. Trib

*In other immigration news, Senator Robles’ bill also passed out of committee and is on to the Senate floor. The measure – co-sponsored by Republican Rep Jeremy Peterson – provides for two types of “accountability” permits: Type A for undocumented immigrants age 18 and older who have lived in the state for at least 18 months and type B for new arrivals who can demonstrate arrangements for work in Utah. It also includes provisions for English proficiency and a criminal background check. Deseret News

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35 Responses to “Daily Fix, Feb 23”

  1. JCarman Says:

    Holly,

    Thank you for the work you are doing. With you, I am also uncomfortable with “enforcement only.” We must also have A) immigration reform and B) border security. Because of our lack of border security, I am deeply concerned about the HB 116 “guest worker” amnesty bill, recently passed by the House.

    As you know, HB 116 creates a “guest worker” status for non-citizens, including those here illegally. This effectively grants amnesty, even while our southern US border is not yet secure. This is something a large majority of Utahns (including myself) vigorously oppose, as it only encourages much more illegal immigration (we learned this from previous amnesty programs).

    I am in favor of a guest worker program for those who come legally into our country. I would also support a “path to citizenship” for some of those here illegally, once the border is secure. But while our southern border remains completely open, amnesty should not be granted.

    Please help recall HB 116, and either vote it down or amend it such that guest worker status applies only to those who:
    1 – have not overstayed their visas, and
    2 – have not already come illegally

  2. Rob Crawford Says:

    Thank you, Holly, for your measured and thoughtful approach to this thorny issue. I still do not support Sandstrom’s bill, even with the amendments, because it is punitive and doesn’t fix the root problems, but I can understand where you’re coming from.

    @ JCarman: If there is a penalty, then it’s not “amnesty”. Amnesty means total waiving of penalties. Why can’t the penalty be something like a fine, which I believe is incorporated into these guest-worker bills? To me, if they have to pay a fine to get legal, it’s not amnesty.

  3. JBT Says:

    I hope Sandstrom’s partisan immigration legislation costs Utah as much in tourism as Arizona’s legislation did in their state. It will serve the Republicans right. The Utah Compact spelled out what position we as a state should take on the immigration issue in a very clear and succinct fashion. It’s too bad that the partisan ideologues in the Utah Legislature feel the need to close their minds to reason and compassion and push this type of ill conceived message legislation at this time. (Yes Holly that includes you as well.) Even the LDS church made its position clear, though it stopped short of being a signator to the message.

  4. JCarman Says:

    @ Rob: HB 116 is a penalty (as you say), followed directly by amnesty. It’s a lot like fining someone who does 60 mph in a school zone, then immediately giving him a card that makes him a member of a special protected class, whose members can speed through school zones whenever they want.

    I heard from a Latina immigrant tonight (she came here legally from Chile). She told her story and asked “where is the compassion toward those of us who worked hard, obeyed the law, and sacrificed to come here legally?” She said legal immigrants are madder (about HB 116) than those who were born here. She said it’s a slap in the face to her and her children. How can one disagree?

  5. JCarman Says:

    @JBT: As you rightly point out, the LDS Church did not sign the “Utah Compact.” The Church did call for compassion during the debate. I believe that most Utahns, on all sides of this issue also want this.

    The great question on this issue is “compassion for whom?” Compassion toward those who knowingly came here illegally? Or compassion toward toward legal immigrants and the descendants of legal immigrants?

  6. Pops Says:

    Where does the Utah State Constitution empower state government to decide who gets to live in Utah? The legislature ought to be concerned with doing what it can within its proper and lawful role to solve the problems created in Utah by illegal immigration. It’s the role of the federal government to stop the illegal immigration, and we need to put more and more pressure on it until we get results.

    Sandstrom, Wimmer, and the lot of them are trying to pass laws that violate the Utah State Constitution in order to uphold the rule of law – rather ironic, that. Luz Robles has the right idea.

    But if we’re going to push state government to overstep its bounds on immigration, we really ought to set up a Utah State Border Patrol – it’s much easier to prevent illegal immigration than to fix it after it’s happened.

  7. JBT Says:

    @JCarman How about compassion for all human beings? Isn’t this the message that Jesus taught.

    With the number of LDS conservative minuteman types running around Utah dehumanizing human beings by labeling them ILLEGAL ALIENS and proposing drastic measures to punish them and separate their families, it is no wonder there are those in our country who don’t believe Mormons to be Christians.

    Judging from the behavior and attitudes of the far right Republicans in this state towards anyone who is different from themselves, it is hard to tell sometimes if they are Christians or not.

    The ruse of going after lawbreakers is nonsense, since I would venture that the vast majority of these “rule of law” fanatics break the state laws themselves every time they drive to the capitol and exceed the legal speed limit, not to mention filling out their federal tax returns. wink wink

  8. MarkS Says:

    @JCarman, I believe with Holly that we need a combination of enforcement and a path to legality, in this case a guest worker program.

    Based on my understanding of what Congress will and won’t do, when you say ‘wait until congress has secured the border’, you’re really saying wait until the 12th of never.

  9. JCarman Says:

    @JBT: You seem pretty bitter toward certain groups of people, and apparently toward me, someone you don’t even know. That’s OK, it’s easy to get carried away and I assume that if we knew each other, you might think differently.

    In the spirit of candid but civil conversation, may I suggest a few ideas:

    First, I said I would support a “path to citizenship” for some, once the border is secure. Pause to consider this. Does this fit your conception of “those people” who don’t think exactly like you on this issue?

    Second, are you quite sure that it is conservatives/Mormons/far-right Republicans/”Minuteman types” (did I get them all?) who want to separate families? Most (not all, of course) of those here illegally are males between the ages of 18 and 35, who choose to leave their families to come work here. Nearly everyone here illegally has extended family that they are leaving behind.

    Finally, I would reiterate the point made by the mother (legal immigrant) from Chile. She said that legal immigrant families seem to have been completely forgotten by those arguing for amnesty. She simply asks, what about compassion towards her family? How would you answer this Latina?

  10. JCarman Says:

    @ MarkS: You may be right (12th of never for border security)! Then again…

    I wonder, if both HB70 and HB116 become law, what will be the net effect, in terms of illegal immigration to Utah? In the end, will we deter or attract more?

  11. Judy Says:

    I do not see HB 116 as a “penalty” followed by amnesty. I see it as Utah setting itself up as a “coyote” – you pay me money (unless you do exactly as I say, in this case get health care coverage) and then I will bend over backward to ensure that you can work here, although it will still be illegally (because even with passage of this law, it is illegal to hire illegal workers according to Federal law, in 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1324a). This bill not only gives a permit to illegal immigrants to work, but it also directs our Dept. of Workforce services to FACILITATE the hiring of illegal workers. If their attention is to facilitating the hiring of those brought here illegally (and literally they will be being brought here illegally by the State), who will be facilitating the hiring of our own citizens?
    I hope Mrs. Richardson will help recall this as well. This is a bad bill, both morally and legally, and a better way can be found to craft compassionate legislation for LEGAL immigrant workers.

  12. Pops Says:

    In the meantime, we have to deal with real people who are really here. Slapping people around isn’t going to help anything.

    I have to wonder what happened to the conservatives who are supposed to believe that human beings are our greatest resource. They’re coming here ready and willing to work, and we want to kick them in the teeth. I guess that’s where modern conservatives diverge from classic liberals. The federal government is giving us lemons (“lemons” = placing us in a bind – it isn’t meant to disparage people), so let’s start making lemonade!

    [In a rare move, Pops agrees with JBT – most of the legislators probably break the law when they drive to work. Then there’s the infamous Utah “use tax” – let’s audit them and see if they’re paying it.]

  13. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ JCarman:

    If there is a penalty, then it’s not “amnesty”.. (didn’t I say that before). The denotation of anmesty is that there is not a penalty.

    This isn’t a slap in the face to those who came here legally. I congratulate them on crossing the nigh-impossible hurdles placed in their way. But the fact remains that thousands cannot afford the years of time, and the thousands of dollars required to come here legally. For many of them it is an urgent issue: come here by any means available, or die. How is it a slap in the face to the privileged few who came here by jumping through all the hoops, to show compassion on others who desperately need to be here as well?

  14. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ JCarman:

    “The great question on this issue is “compassion for whom?” Compassion toward those who knowingly came here illegally? Or compassion toward toward legal immigrants and the descendants of legal immigrants?”

    Really? Really?? You have to ask? Compassion for EVERYONE, of course. All of us are sons and daughters of God. You really think He cares which side of the Rio Grande we were born on?

  15. JCarman Says:

    @Rob, thank you, you prove my point, which is that we should have compassion on everyone, not just one class that it is politically (or socially) correct to protect. (Whence the bitterness, bro?)

    I think you would also agree that it is disingenuous (dare I say bigoted?) to assume that only people of one’s own political persuasion have a monopoly on compassion, or any other virtue. 😉

  16. Pops Says:

    In the drive to ensure compassion and fairness to all, and also to attack the source of the problem (federal government inaction) rather than the symptoms, the state should compute the cost to the state of illegal immigration and bill the federal government, or perhaps sue for damages on the grounds of dereliction of duty. Those who have come here legally and paid money for the privilege should sue for compensation under the equal protection clause. It would even be nice to get a court order requiring the current president, be he of whichever party, to enforce the law or face contempt charges.

  17. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ JCarman: I agree, we shouldn’t assume that the compassion is all one-sided. Not sure what I may have said to make you think I believe otherwise.

    The posts you made earlier seemed to indicate that you only thought compassion should apply to documented immigrants. If I mistook you, I apologize.

  18. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ Pops: The current immigration laws are broken, unjust, and unfair. Why should we expect the Feds to enforce them? They need to be fixed before they can be enforced.

  19. JCarman Says:

    Rob, no worries. Good discussion.

  20. Pops Says:

    The part that is not broken is the part that says nobody enters the country without explicit permission. That is eminently enforceable.

  21. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ Pops:

    The permission-granting apparatus is broken, and unfair. Until it is fixed, there is no way we can secure the border. There is no fence tall enough, nor any army large enough to keep everyone out. The only way to secure the border is to remove the pressure that forces people to choose to come illegally. If we fix legal immigration, people will naturally come legally, if that is an option available to them.

  22. Pops Says:

    So what you’re saying is that if we change the laws to allow the people who are coming here illegally come legally, the problem is fixed. The same people are coming and all, they would just be legal. Is that it? That would also make it easy to fix the problem of the illegals who are here already – just call them legal and be done with it.

  23. Rob Crawford Says:

    Well, mostly, yes. I have no problem with people coming here. I have a problem with a system that forces them to sneak in, rather than coming openly. I welcome immigrants. Don’t you?

  24. Pops Says:

    The point is that the federal government ought to have some say in who cannot come into the country. All others welcome, with some regulation of flow based on our capacity to absorb those who come.

  25. Rob Says:

    @ Pops: Agreed, the nation ought to be able to decide who enters. When the decision process is as unjust and broken as our current process is, however, I feel that we need to fix the system before we try to enforce the rules of a bad system.

  26. JCarman Says:

    @Rob, under the philosophy you describe, can anyone get a pass on any law, as long as they believe the law is part of a “broken system”?

  27. Pops Says:

    @Rob: if they can’t at least turn off the spigot, there really isn’t any hope of solving the problem. You and I both know they will never “fix” the current process, because they will never come to agreement on what the problem is. So the states will be stuck with trying to deal with it. I keep going back to the idea of suing the pants off the federal government to cover the costs incurred by the states – if every state did the same, then perhaps the people in DC would get the message that they need to do something.

  28. JCarman Says:

    Pops, I like your approach. Are you working on this with the UT AG, or with any groups?

  29. Rob Crawford Says:

    @ JCarman: Well, I suppose if they could get enough people to agree with them that the law was bad, then yeah. Like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Brigham Young, etc.

    @ Pops: Why do we need to “turn off the spigot”? What reason can we have for keeping people out that want to come here? If they’re not violent criminals, or terrorists, or spies, why not let them come? If there’s room enough (and there is) and there are jobs for them (and there are), then what reason can we have to keep them out? You don’t have to provide welfare for everyone. But if we have an economic need for their labor, and if US citizens are not filling that need, then why not let them come and work legally?

  30. Rob Crawford Says:

    “One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws….

    How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

    —Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

  31. Rob Crawford Says:

    …and I’m pretty sure you can’t sue the Feds over this, due to the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity.

  32. Pops Says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if the failure of a federal employee (chief executive officer) to carry out the duties of office (enforcement of civil immigration law) resulting in damages to the several states would fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act and thus sovereign immunity would be waived.

  33. Pops Says:

    Why do we need to “turn off the spigot”? What reason can we have for keeping people out that want to come here?

    One reason would be our inability to absorb the tidal wave of immigration that would occur if we simply stepped back and opened the southern border. We wouldn’t be able to supply the food, housing, sanitation, or health services that would be required. Texas would turn into a refugee camp.

    Another reason would be our closed labor and health-care systems. We need to open those up and again become a free nation in those regards, thus removing from immigrants the necessity of inventing or stealing identities and health-care services.

  34. Rob Crawford Says:

    I think that once the jobs were all filled, the tide would recede. There’s plenty of empty housing around, and we’re paying farmers NOT to grow food.

  35. Pops Says:

    I would hazard a guess that you’ve never lived south of the border…

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