We're sure state Sen. Bill Hickman is a decent soul. He likely worries about the well-being of his family, works hard, gives thanks for his blessings and good fortune. So it would not be fair to demonize him because of one particular issue: immigration.
We only wish he would do the same when it comes to the Latino community.
Several bills are being drafted for consideration in the upcoming session of Utah's Legislature. Hickman's is gaining a lot of attention because it would be patterned after an Oklahoma law that would make it a class A misdemeanor to harbor or transport an illegal immigrant. It would turn local police into immigration police, and it would repeal in-state tuition and driving benefits currently allowed to qualifying undocumented people and their children. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has called such patchwork immigration policy "unfortunate."
Hickman surely knows some illegal immigrants. Living in St. George, it's impossible not to. But like those one-issue voters who see people as one-dimensional pro-choice, anti-gay or bald-headed Hickman appears to see brown people through one lens: legal or illegal? One can imagine him scowling at a Latino worker, then upon learning the worker is here legally seeing the man as a hard-working soul with wants and needs. Then upon learning the worker's papers are expired, casting him once again back into the pit.
One dimensional human beings are for the movies. Living human beings deserve better. And many religions in Utah are trying to find a better way a more humane way of dealing with illegal immigrants.
Thinking that government can offer care and concern may be a fool's errand, but government can try to be fair and attempt, however feebly, to deal with people on a case-by-case basis as human beings.
Are there illegal immigrants who should be sent packing? Absolutely. But some deserve a chance to prove themselves. And though Hickman's proposals would simply make it "more difficult" for illegal immigrants to live here, he is banking on getting the support of lawmakers who are annoyed and angry and in their 2 a.m. thoughts imagine seeing all illegal immigrants rounded up and herded south.
Utah is a better place than that. And it is up to Utah's more measured and wise public servants to step forward and keep those who mask their disdain and racism with proposed immigration bills from winning the day on this one.
Immigrants legal or illegal should not be painted with a broad brush any more than politicians should be all tarred the same. And that should especially be the case in Utah, where humanity should be a point of pride.