From News-Press.com, “Editorial: Do the right thing on immigration,” 3 Apr 2011.
[Fort Myers, FL] — It’s true that only Congress can fix immigration comprehensively.
But Utah, a conservative state, recently adopted a series of immigration reforms that touched all the bases: tougher enforcement, a guest-worker program to meet the state’s labor needs and fines and work permits for the unauthorized immigrants already living and working in Utah.
This is an embarrassing contrast to Florida’s proposals, which continue to emphasize Arizona-style “enforcement only,” with its unavoidable (if unintended) racial profiling and alienation of immigrant communities.
Senate Bill 2040, scheduled for a vote today by the state Senate Judiciary Committee, is a good example of this bad trend.
Utah’s program is imperfect and may well be unconstitutional.
But it is decent and comprehensive, something promised 12 years ago under George W. Bush, and still undone under Barack Obama.
Other states, impatient for action but following the dictates of humanity and common sense rather than pandering to anti-immigrant prejudice, might follow the Utah model. Congress might finally be forced to act – and it would have a good model for at least part of the problem.
Illegal immigration is down because of the bad economy. This should give us time to do the right thing on immigration, rather than passing ill-considered laws. For example, Florida farm interests worry that state enforcement without a guest-worker program in place will leave them short of labor.
If Florida lawmakers are determined to legislate on immigration, urge them to help point Washington in the right direction, instead of engaging in immigrant-bashing.