PROVO Many Utahns listed illegal immigration as "the number-one issue" on surveys recently received by the House and Senate, said Chris Herrod, R-Provo, early Saturday at the Eggs and Issues breakfast.
"Eighty percent of my constituents want something done about illegal immigration," he said.
Legislators are responding with bills. Since the session began this week, seven bills dealing strictly with illegal immigration were proposed or introduced.
At Saturday's meeting of legislators, businesspeople and citizens Steven Sandstrom, R-Provo, reported on a bill he is sponsoring. The bill will require jails to report arrested illegal immigrants to ICE to determine if they will be deported.
Senate Majority Leader Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, said bills like this "have a higher probability of passing" but "there are a whole host of bills dealing with employers and undocumented workers that will be a little more difficult."
Businesspeople at the meeting expressed concern about the economic impact of bills that limit who can be employed. Yet citizens wondered about the costs of providing welfare and education for illegal immigrants.
"How do you balance it?" Sen. Bramble said of the cost of immigration. "How do you balance it in a reasonable way? We respect the balance of the law, but we are compassionate people. Really, the root cause of the problem is that illegal immigration needs to be dealt with at a federal level."
The Utah County expansion of I-15 and the UTA audit were other hot topics at the breakfast.
"The audit on UTA gave us significant findings on their governance model, which I think is important, and we've needed to look at that for a long time," Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, said.Lockhart said she is hoping the audit and the "cooling economy" will not be obstacles to the I-15 expansion, which is a top priority for businesspeople in Utah and Salt Lake counties.
Eggs and Issues
Who: Legislators, business leaders and Utah County residents
What: Come discuss issues impacting the business community.
When: Every Saturday at 7:30 a.m. until the legislative session ends in March
Where: Northwest Plaza of the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center