SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert lamented that state lawmakers will not hear a bill this session to toughen the state's E-Verify law.
"I think that's unfortunate for a lot of reasons," he said Wednesday.
GOP leaders said the Legislature wants to take a break from illegal immigration issues this year after passing a package of bills in 2011.
The House Rules Committee, which sifts bills for consideration, decided to hold immigration-related legislation, including Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's bill that would have prohibited employers from knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. It would have suspended business licenses of companies that violated the law.
Utah has an E-Verify law, which asks businesses to check employees' immigration status in a federal online database. But it does not include sanctions for noncompliance.
Herbert said the measure would have discouraged illegal hiring and held businesses accountable. He also said it was a bill that he believed all sides of the illegal immigration debate could support.
"It's one that we can and should come together on," he said.
Sandstrom said he understands the Legislature's hesitation this year, but the illegal immigration problem is not going away.