The sponsor of legislation that would cost police officers their certification if they didn't adequately enforce immigration law said Friday he'd be willing to take it out of a larger bill designed to replace the state's existing guest worker law.
Rep. Chris Herod, R-Provo, said he was "saddened" that much of the focus on his bill, HB300, zeroed in on the portion dubbed the "Burbank Rule," which appeared to take aim at Salt Lake City Chief Chris Burbank for immigration policies deemed liberal by hardliners opposed to illegal immigration.
"It was not my intent to have a rift with Chief Burbank," Herrod said.
Herrod's proposal is currently sitting in the House Rules Committee awaiting assignment for a committee hearing.
Burbank said when HB300 was first made public last week, he was troubled by the bill's requirement that police be stripped of their POST certification for failing to enforce immigration law. Without that certification, officers including chiefs or sheriffs would lose their ability to act as law enforcement.
"I take that personally," he said last week.
Herrod's proposal also troubled House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo.
She said she hadn't read the entire bill, but was familiar with the POST decertification provision.
"It's one of those sections I personally had some concerns with," Lockhart said. "If that is removed from the bill, that is something I would approve of."
Herrod said HB300 was an answer to HB116 and to arguments that those who opposed the guest-worker law lacked compassion and were anti-immigration. He said the proposal was a way to compromise with HB116 supporters.
The bill would allow some immigrants those who overstayed visas but never used a false Social Security number to bypass the required waiting period of 10 years in their home country before they could legally return to the United States. Herrod said that provision would provide a great incentive for people to come to the country legally.
But the bill removes some of the current law's more novel concepts that have garnered national attention. It would take out the fines levied against those living and working in Utah - $2,500 if the person entered the country illegally and $1,000 if it was an overstayed visa. Herrod's measure would offer no recourse for undocumented immigrants already working in Utah other than an extended period of time for them to deport themselves.
HB116, which was partially rooted in The Utah Compact, was backed by a variety of groups, including the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, The Sutherland Institute and the LDS Church.
Herrod said he sent a copy of his proposal to undisclosed church officials, but never heard back from them on his bill. He said he was motivated to push this bill as a way to show compromise and mend the party, which was ripped apart over the course of the year by resolutions passed by county and state Republican party conventions seeking to repeal and replace HB116.
"I was trying to find a balance," he said. "Something I want to do is unite the state and not divide the state."