Groups Urge Governor to Veto Undocumented Worker Bill

(KCPW News) Groups that are typically at odds on most political issues are finding common ground as they call on Governor Gary Herbert to veto a guest worker bill passed by the state legislature. HB 116, which has gained national attention, allows the state to issue permits for undocumented immigrants to legally work in Utah. Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration spokesman Ron Mortensen says the bill is inherently flawed, and the only solution is to veto it.

“Anybody in a gang who’s carrying out drug dealing or anything, as long as they haven’t been convicted they will be given a guest workers permit,” he said. “The other thing of it is, it goes directly against the Republican platform that all of these individuals ran on.”

Mortensen adds there’s nothing in the bill to keep guest workers from receiving social services like food stamps for their children who are born in the United States.

The ACLU of Utah also opposes the bill because it says it’s unconstitutional. Legislative and policy counsel Marina Lowe says Utah doesn’t have the authority to regulate immigration law, and it’s highly unlikely the state will get a federal waiver to implement the program.

“I hope that he considers the constitutionality first and foremost of these bills, I would hope that he would recognize that as a public servant who’s obligation is to uphold the constitution, that it doesn’t make sense to sign bills that fly in the face of that constitution,” says Lowe.

The ACLU also opposes HB 497, which requires police to verify the immigration status of anyone arrested for a Class A misdemeanor or felony, saying the bill puts minorities at risk of racial profiling.