2011 Legislature: Budget, immigration biggest legislative issues
Lawmakers at odds over how rosy future is
Recent polls show the economy is a key issue Utahns want to see addressed. But even though lawmakers appear set on addressing illegal immigration, Utahns apparently don't find the issue all that pressing, according to a recent public opinion poll.
Immigration ranked sixth when Dan Jones & Associates asked residents to list which issues they worry about most that could be affected by the legislature and state government. Education, health care, the economy, jobs and taxes topped immigration, according to the poll of 504 Utahns conducted for UtahPolicy.com and the Exoro Group.
The survey further shows that while 86 percent of residents think undocumented immigrants in Utah is a serious problem, they favor the Legislature pursuing measures that allow those who are already here a chance to continue to live and work in Utah rather than focusing on enforcement.
Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said senators are not interested in passing a "Stephen Sandstrom bill," which is heavy on enforcement.
"It would send a bad message that is really not the Utah way," he said.
Controversial legislation in Arizona served as a catalyst for Orem Republican Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's proposal and is indicative of the mood in several states regarding undocumented immigrants. The federal government's inaction on the issue has states, including Utah, taking matters into their own hands.
Lawmakers figure to debate at least a dozen different immigration bills this session. Legislation sponsored by Sandstrom and Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, who proposes a state-issued "accountability" card, have garnered the most attention so far.
"There's a lot of posturing on that" issue, Dee said.
The House, he said, leans more toward enforcement measures, while the Senate favors some type of guest worker program. "I am hoping," he said, "we can come together."
Waddoups said he sees the Legislature passing three or four complementary bills that would address enforcement as well as provide a way for undocumented immigrants to work.
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