Politics or compassion

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Re "Guest-worker law's startup stirs debate" (Tribune, Nov. 21):

Proponents of Utah's guest-worker law suggest that implementing it spurs congressional action on immigration. But the law is not the compassionate salve to immigrant woes many bill it to be.

After it was passed, many immigrants lost thousands of dollars buying phony permits. Implementing the law means a new run of immigrant scamming by unscrupulous individuals claiming a permit is legally valid long before any potential federal waivers make it so.

More important, the state-created permit still asks people to come here to perform important, back-breaking work without any permanent legal status or real protections. Permit-carrying immigrants are unlikely to demand their employers comply with labor laws.

A general statement in HB116 that it will be implemented to protect civil rights does not protect individuals with what amounts to a temporary pass to work in the country only as long as your employer wants you — which may only be as long as you don't complain about inhumane or illegal working conditions.

As political strategy, HB116 may be brilliant. That is not the same as compassionate.

Jean Welch Hill Government Liaison Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City