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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs immigration bills into law

Published: Tuesday, March 15 2011 4:19 p.m. MDT

Herbert, who described the issue of immigration as "difficult, emotional and complex," acknowledged that not all the key players in the legislative debate and community were pleased with final package of bills. "I suspect all of us up here don't agree with everything that's in each and every bill," he said referring the lawmakers, community leaders, business representatives and religious leaders who attended the bill signing.

Senate President Mike Waddoups said legislation was a testament to the give-and-take process of making laws. "The end product you see on the table today that the governor is about to sign is not where we began," Waddoups said. 

Waddoups said the new laws did not grant amnesty nor would they result in racial profiling. The bills were not carbon copies of bills passed in Arizona, Oklahoma or Missouri. "We're not following the path. We have a Utah solution."

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart said she was proud of lawmakers who "rolled up their sleeves" and took on one of most vexing issues of the day amid intense criticism from people "who had no answers of their own."

"Utah has taken the lead and I'm proud of us for asking the tough questions," she said.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, responding to the bill signing, said he looks forward to the day that Congress provides a federal solution to the nation's immigration issues.

The immigration debate itself has been divisive and hurtful. "It's brought racial hatred to the surface and police are caught in the middle." 

Burbank said an illegal immigrant injured in an industrial accident died because his friends were afraid to seek emergency treatment for fear they would be turned over to immigration authorities.

That makes Burbank wonder how many other people fear contacting police when they are victims of crime. "We (law enforcement) should be there for everybody. If we're not, we're not doing our job," Burbank said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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