(KCPW News) A resolution is moving in the Utah Senate asking the federal government to allow states to create their own guest-worker programs. Sen. Scott Jenkins is sponsoring the resolution, which came out of the Immigration Interim Committee.
"Everybody worried about the fact that we were being too hard on immigrants. Well, it was never our intention to be hard on immigrants; it was our intention to be hard on illegal immigrants," Jenkins says. "So many of these folks are here illegally because they can't get here legally."
The resolution won preliminary approval in the Senate with only three "No" votes. It faces another vote before it can move to the House for further debate.
However, Sen. Karen Mayne voted against the resolution, citing concerns about recruiting foreign workers when the unemployment rate here is climbing.
"My stand is as long as we have Utahns out of work, we take care of our own first," Mayne says. "I appreciate the bill, I appreciate where it comes from. But my constituencies, I have many out of work, agricultural jobs, construction jobs and tech jobs. "
In response, Jenkins said the resolution calls for an employer-based guest-worker program that would only allow Utah businesses to hire foreign workers for two years, and only if the economy dictates more workers are needed.