Reactions mixed on immigrant reform plan

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 1 2010 10:52 p.m. MST

Mero said the bill also fits Gov. Gary Herbert's own guiding principles regarding illegal immigration, which include private sector accountability and tools for law enforcement. Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling said Robles brought the governor a copy of the draft to review as have sponsors of other immigration measures. Regarding the provision in Robles' bill requiring him to petition the federal government for authority to carry out the worker permit program should it become law, Welling said he's looking into that process. "He would consider that," she said.

State government also would have to make changes if the bill passes.

A new office, similar to the driver license division, in the Department of Public Safety would be created to oversee the program. It would be tasked with running criminal background checks, issuing work permits, registering businesses that hire undocumented workers and maintaining a database of cardholders.

Public safety spokesman Brian Hyer said Robles talked with the department before drafting the bill. It has already started working with fiscal analysts to evaluate potential costs and impacts to present to lawmakers, he said.

"Bottom line is we're grateful to be part of the conversation," he said. "We'll do the best that we can to provide the input (lawmakers) need to make those decisions."

Robles' bill will be competing with likely more than a dozen immigration bills when the Legislature convenes in January.

e-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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