Sutherland Institute head Paul Mero, who helped craft the Utah Compact, said Robles' bill "reflects the letter and spirit of that document" and fits with the governor's principles as well.
"SB60 is not an employment bill for undocumented immigrants. It's an accountability bill that protects our public safety and, in that process, permits people of good will to provide for their families until the federal government decides what it will do."
Mark Alvarez, an attorney and Latino community activist, who opposes most immigration reform as unconstitutional, says those invoking the compact are contradicting its call for federal solutions.
"It does not claim to be a blueprint for policy or even a guide for policy, though some people want to twist it into that," he said.
Alvarez joined former U.S. attorney for Utah Brent Tolman in urging the state to hold off on enacting laws on illegal immigration until the federal government tackles the issue.
"I worry about the state taking up different legislation to send messages to Washington, D.C., without really sending the message: 'This is a federal issue. Get it solved,'" Tolman said. "The more you have states enacting legislation, the more you get what happened in Arizona."
SJR18 , sponsored by Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, calls on Congress to address immigration reform and incorporate an increased and complementary role for states. It further recommends any enforcement, state-issued worker permits and guest worker programs be delayed until at least January 2013.
Wright's HB116 seeks a waiver from the federal government within the next two years to allow illegal immigrants to participate in a guest worker program.
"If we don't get something like this, we're going to paralyze our communities. We're going to paralyze our businesses in this state," Wright said. He made a plea for forgiving those who have entered the country illegally to work, saying everyone, including himself, makes mistakes.
"I suggest there are a lot of people that will want to comply and participate with this, if we quit entrapping them and give them a way to go forward and be good 'citizens,'" Wright said.
In House floor debate, Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, said he's tired of hearing that illegal immigrants are good people. "They contribute somewhat," he said, but the real question is should they be treated better.
Herrod said entering the country illegally shouldn't be treated as if it's "not that big a deal. It is a big deal if you're waiting to come to this country … We punish those that actually go through the process."
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