The fact that one of our elected officials, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, is a leader in the move to bring the Republican Party around to the need for immigration reform that is not only comprehensive, but humane, brings honor on the entire state of Utah
Shurtleff was the most prominent member of a Utah delegation to this week's meeting of the National Immigration Forum in Washington. The attorney general, who is particularly free to speak his mind because he is no longer seeking elective office, brought with him the principles of the Utah Compact. That is the philosophy that seeks reform of the nation's broken immigration laws, reform that respects the humanity of those who move from country to county in search of a better life even as it seeks to uphold the rule of law.
As a soon-to-be former elected official, Shurtleff is able to speak truth to the still powerful. He rightly decried the enforcement-only tactics of elected officials in Arizona and elsewhere as not only unproductive, but as clearly pandering to the lesser demons of our political nature.
And, as a Republican who has his eyes on a new career as a lobbyist, Shurtleff is also among those who note that Republicans, by sucking up to the anti-immigrant paranoid fringe of their party, have alienated a much larger swath of voters across the country that includes, but is not limited to, the growing number of Hispanic citizens.
Shurtleff is also about to take a seat on the board of the National Immigration Forum. There he will join in the efforts of many others to build a new immigration regime that includes a pathway to legal residence, and citizenship, for those already in the country illegally. While angrily dismissed as "amnesty" by its many vocal opponents, that is the only sane, humane and, in the end, practical approach.
Millions of people live, work, go to school, pay taxes and otherwise fully participate in the life of their communities across America, even though, in the eyes of the law, they aren't supposed to be here. To round them all up and deport them would be as cruel as it would be impossible. It would deprive our economy of millions of hard-working employees, cash-paying customers and dedicated students.
It is particularly heartless, and brainless, to seek to deport, or to ban from work and school, the millions of people who were brought here as children and know no other home but America.
So far, the elected officials who represent Utah in Congress are only poking around the edges of reform, and unwilling to acknowledge the need for a path to legal status for immigrants. They should listen to Shurtleff.