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Utah Compact guides immigration debate nationwide

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah forged ahead today with another new approach to the heated debate over immigration. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff hosted the first Mountain West Immigration Summit, another step in a process started with the Utah Compact a year ago.

People from across the spectrum of our community came together early last November to sign the Compact: a statement to influence the tone of the immigration debate. Since then, other states have taken notice, the New York Times applauded the approach, and now, this summit it taking it to a broader audience.

Principles supported in the Utah Compact
Federal solutions

Law enforcement



A free society

It urges the public and leaders to commit to a rational debate on immigration. Shurtleff says it's already done that here, and in other states.

"It's not worth anything unless it actually helps form good policy," Shurtleff said.

The compact declares five principles to guide the immigration debate, among them a commitment to federal, rather than state solutions, and a focus on keeping families together.

When the compact started to get national attention, Shurtleff started to work on America's Compact, until he realized that was too hot to handle in Washington.

"We regrouped and said, states are doing something, let's do a state by state compact and we're getting great response already," Shurtleff said.

Wednesday's Mountain West Immigration Summit was one of the results.

Syndicated columnist and keynote speaker Ruben Navarrette thinks Utah's legislature should use the compact as a model for future legislation. And he hopes the principles will reduce the harshness of the rhetoric nationwide.

We are not made a better country by deporting people who play by the rules, who are grandparents, who have been here forever.

–Ruben Navarrette

"We are not made a better country by deporting people who play by the rules, who are grandparents, who have been here forever," Navarrette said.

"I'm hopeful that that ugliness we've encountered in places like Arizona and around the country is running its course and people are coming back to a more realistic approach to the issue."

Shurtleff has met with leaders in many other states, which are looking at similar compacts. Indiana has one, Iowa will sign one soon, and some cities have created compacts too.


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Jed Boal


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