Immigration Debate, Informative, Divisive, Helpful?, The Sentinel Newspaper

Hilarie Orman, Sat Jan 22 13:54:52 MST 2011

The panel recommending enforcement of Federal laws by Utah

The panel opposed to enforcement of Federal laws by Utah

Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute summing up the opposition to enforcement.

The battle over undocumented residents of Utah heated up Friday evening as the Sutherland Institute's debate over state enforcement of of immigration laws brought out citizens on both sides of the issue. The crowd used noise to express their opinions as the debators argued facts, perceptions, emotions, and options.

State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-District 58) handed out draft copies of his "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act" which he intends to introduce in the legislative session which begins on Monday. His panel consisted of himself, Rep. Chris Herrod (R-District 62), Ron Mortensen, Arturo Morales, and Lynette Weed. Herrod noted the difficulty of legal immigration and advocated for a vision of a nation of with immigrants evenly distributed across the countries of world. Morales, a legal Mexican immigrant, insisted that any solution to problems of illegal immigration had to begin with enforcement.

Utah state senator Curtis Bramble (R-District 16), opposed having the state enforce "failed Federal policies". He was joined in this opinion by other members of his panel, Paul Mero, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff, Utah senator Luz Morales D-District 1), and Doug Wright. Mero, in particular, argued that Utah does not have the right nor the resources to detain and deport people. Shurtleff noted that his office vigorously prosecuted the "big fish" involved in violating state laws relevant to illegal immigration, especially those who provide fraudulent identification.

Sparks and feathers flew as emotional issues crossed the debate floor and the audience took sides noisily. Ms. Weed described the plight of having her child's social security number used widely by presumed illegals, Shurtleff talked about divided families, Mortensen referred to corrupt countries undermining the rule of law in the US, Wright noted that country had changed greatly in some fundamental civil rights attitudes, and Morales expressed his love of the United States. Both sides complained about the other's "wordsmithing" and claimed that unfounded statistics were flying about.

The moderator, attorney Barbara Melendez, rode herd on the audience and panelists alike, and encouraged all those who were interested in the issues to do their own research into the facts.

All material copyright The Sentinel Newspaper, 2011