SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed four immigration bills into law Tuesday morning in the Gold Room of the State Capitol.
The governor fixed his signature upon a bill dealing with law enforcement of illegal immigrants, a guest worker program for undocumented workers, a sponsor-an-immigrant program and a migrant worker program. Herbert said the bills aren’t the end of immigration reform and that the bills represent years worth of work to find better solutions to immigration.
“It has taken us decades to get to this position,” Herbert said. “It’s going to take longer to get to where we need.”
Herbert spoke specifically to the two most controversial bills — the law enforcement bill and the guest worker program — saying both bills are needed to reform immigration and that they both fit under his six guiding principles that he established for the Legislature to follow when crafting immigration bills. Herbert said the foundation of any immigration change needs to be the enforcement of the law.
“Utah’s solution, and I believe the nation’s solution, must start with the foundation of rule of law enforcement. We’ve created a situation over decades because of a lack of enforcement,” Herbert said. “You cannot do anything else unless you have a foundation of rule of law.”
Herbert explained that the law enforcement bill will help enforce the rule law but also fit within his guiding princples that state that immigration laws need to be “color blind” and “race neutral.” The governor explained that only after an officer has charged someone with another crime and their identification cannot be verified, can law enforcement officials check the immigration status of an individual. Law enforcement officials will not be able to use racial profiling to enforce the law.
With a law enforcement measure Utah will also have a program to allow undocumented workers in the state to obtain a guest worker permit. Although opponents to the program call the idea “amnesty,” Herbert says the guest workers are still considered illegal residents of the United States, and that the state by no means is issuing amnesty.
“The guest worker permit is not a get out of jail free card,” Herbert said. “The federal government still has responsibility in naturalization and deportation.”
The guest worker program allows undocumented workers in the state to apply for guest worker permit that allows them and their families to remain in the state as long as they have employment. Those applying for the permit would be charged a fine of $1,000 if they immigrated into the U.S. legally but since have become illegal and $2,500 if they entered the U.S. illegally. The guest worker program will not go into effect until July 1, 2013, and in the meantime the state will ask the federal government for a wavier to implement the program.
Herbert says having both bills passed will help Utah put pressure on the federal government to take the lead in immigration reform.
“Both of these bills actually work together in a complimentary fashion. All geared toward getting the federal government off the sidelines and into the game and do what they should be doing under the constitution. Securing the boarders and have a naturalization policy that makes sense,” he said.
Herbert was joined by House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, Representatives from the Sutherland Institute, the Catholic Chuch, the Eagle Forum, and the LDS Church. Missing from the signing was Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, chief sponsor of the law enforcement bill and Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, a lawmaker who also drafted a guest worker program.
“Our presence here testifies that we appreciate what has been done here by the Legislature this session,” said Bishop H. David Burton, presiding Bishop of the LDS Church.