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Groups urging governor to veto immigration bills

By John Daley | Posted - Mar. 9, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Groups with passionate views about undocumented immigration are urging Gov. Gary Herbert to veto bills that come down on both sides of the issue.

Some conservatives are blasting a measure to set up a guest worker program while others don't like an Arizona-inspired enforcement bill, which they say is unconstitutional.

Calls are streaming in to the governor's office on immigration, and the governor is feeling the heat from many sides.

Plenty of the ire is inspired by HB116, a multi-faceted bill that would set up an immigrant guest worker program. Tuesday, a group of GOP delegates told the governor it would make Utah the "sanctuary state" of the whole U.S.

"It was pretty impressive to have 90 to 100 delegates with four hours' notice come up and say, 'Hey, we're state delegates and this issue is important,'" say Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo. "I think it would be absolute political suicide for the governor to sign that bill or let it go into law."

Civil libertarians, some Latino groups and others want the governor to also veto the Arizona-inspired enforcement bill known as HB497, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.

The ACLU warns both bills are unconstitutional. It worries the state will be left just with the enforcement measure since the guest worker law doesn't go into effect until 2013, and will do so only with a federal OK.

"Frankly, we think it's largely illusory," said Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel with the ACLU of Utah. "Just a way to make people feel better about passing the enforcement bill."

Others see what lawmakers ended up with as a reasonable, compassionate and innovative approach that allows Utah to sidestep the controversy sparked by Arizona's get-tough law.

The governor's spokeswoman says no decisions have been made yet on those immigration bills.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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