Utah immigration idea gets hearing in Arizona

Published: Wednesday, March 2 2011 1:36 p.m. MST

For months, Utah legislators have argued for and against following in Arizona's footsteps in immigration reform. Now some in Arizona are looking to the Beehive state for leadership.

A citizen advisory board in Mesa, Ariz. — hometown of the author of the infamous SB1070 , which makes illegal immigration a state crime — is considering drafting a document similar to the Utah Compact, the Arizona Republic reported.

The Utah Compact, written by a slew of local business, religious and political leaders last fall, calls for the state to keep immigration solutions "humane," focus local law enforcement resources on curbing criminal activity and look to the federal government for immigration reform.

Mesa's Human Relations Advisory Board, which advises the City Council, voted unanimously to assign the matter of an "Arizona Compact" to study by subcommittee. The board's job is to examine and make policy recommendations on issues of civil rights and diversity.

"We want to be thoughtful, deliberative and purposeful in our assessment so that if we make a recommendation to the City Council, they know we have done our homework," said Rory Gilbert, a member of the Human Relations Advisory Board.

Thus far, the City Council has been "leery" of commenting on the issue, the Arizona Republic reported. In the meantime, according to the New York Times, Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce is pushing for a bundle of immigration measures that may make SB1070 "look mild."

Somos Republicans, an Arizona-based Hispanic lobbyist group, has been pushing for an Arizona Compact since December as part of a campaign to get all states in the union to heed Utah's example. Legislators in Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Maine and Indiana have already crafted their own versions of the Utah Compact.

"There is a wave of anti-immigrant policies being implemented, and we want to remind the American people what made America great," the Somos Republicans announced on its' web site . "The State of Utah set a fine example of how the topic of immigration should be discussed."

e-mail: estuart@desnews.com

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