Utah's guest worker law would be pushed back 2 years under new Senate bill

Published: Monday, Feb. 25 2013 1:41 p.m. MST

Utah assistant attorney general Phil Lott talks to the media Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, at the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, where U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups heard arguments on constitutionality of HB497, Utah's immigration enforcement law passed by the Legislature in 2011. With an eye on the potential for meaningful federal immigration reform, Utah's lawmakers would push back the effective dates of two immigration laws passed in 2011 under a bill introduced in the Utah Senate Monday.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — With an eye on the potential for meaningful federal immigration reform, Utah's lawmakers would push back the effective dates of two immigration laws passed in 2011 under a bill introduced Monday in the Utah Senate.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, sponsor of SB225, said the bill would delay by two years language in the Utah Code referring to guest workers and a pilot program to allow Utahns to sponsor foreign nationals. Those laws, passed during the 2011 Legislature, were HB116 and HB469. Both were on track to be implemented this summer. The bill pushes that back to July 1, 2015.

Bramble said there is momentum in Congress to address comprehensive immigration reform.

"If that happens, 116 and 469 will not be necessary," he said.

But the language of SB225 hedges Utah's position because if federal immigration reform does not occur, the bill allows the Utah laws to remain in effect.

Members of Utah's congressional delegation, in addressing state lawmakers, have each indicated momentum for passage of immigration reform, Bramble said.

"I think that there's been a great deal of positive rhetoric," he said. "The nation is waiting for them to do something."

Meanwhile, another bill passed in 2011, an immigration enforcement measure, is enjoined under a temporary injunction until a federal judge rules on a motion for preliminary injunction. Civil rights organizations and the Department of Justice have challenged the constitutionality of HB497, arguing it violates the Fourth Amendment and usurps federal authority.

Bramble said he introduced SB225 independent of the court challenge of HB497, although some of the enforcement language in the bill under federal court challenge is also found in HB116.

"This is independent of that. HB116 stands on its own," he said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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