Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Following in Utah's footsteps, business and civic leaders in Arizona have teamed up to draft a document that advocates for principle-based immigration reform.
Like the Utah Compact, which was created in 2010 , the Arizona Accord supports focusing law enforcement resources on criminal violations instead of immigration enforcement, keeping families together, acknowledging the economic role immigrants play and treating immigrants humanely, The Arizona Republic reported.
"This is a broad set of guiding principles designed to frame the discussion both at the state and the federal level," said Scott Higginson, who helped organize the drafting of the Arizona Accord. "It is our belief and hope that with the Arizona Accord in place, the dialogue can change and we might be able to find holistic solutions."
The Utah Compact was key to the passage of a Utah law that enables illegal immigrants who pass a background check and pay a fine to obtain work permits. Immigrant advocates have said they believe the compact was also influential in the 2011 recall of Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, author of the state's hard-line immigration laws.
A majority — 78 percent — of Arizonans say they support passing a guest-worker law similar to Utah's, according to a November Arizona State University poll.
But republican lawmakers in Arizona say they're not interested in heading that direction.
Arizona Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs told The Arizona Republic he believes the Utah Compact is bad policy. The principle of "being nice to everybody" doesn't secure the border.
When asked if he would take the Arizona Accord into consideration when making legislative decisions he said, "I think the majority of the caucus thinks, 'What the heck? Get this out of here.'"
This is not the first effort to bring the principles outlined in the Utah Compact to Arizona's immigration debate. A citizen advisory board in Mesa Arizona looked at drafting a similar document in March of last year. Somos Republicans, an Arizona-based Hispanic lobbyist group, has been pushing for an Arizona compact since December of 2010.
Arizona's SB1070, which put the enforcement of federal immigration laws in the hands of state and local police, inspired state legislatures across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants in hopes of encouraging them to leave the country.
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