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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Friday he wants to see more than an Arizona-style enforcement-only bill come across his desk. He wants legislation that addresses all facets of state-led immigration reform.
The remarks were reported by members of the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly, who met Friday with Herbert in the governor's mansion. The meeting was private, but several of those who attended said Herbert hewed closely to his six "guiding principles" on the controversial issue.
"He encourages Rep. [Stephen] Sandstrom and others to move forward to work together," Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling said. "What he wants to see is one comprehensive bill or several bills that are complementary and cover all parts of the spectrum. He doesn't want to see just one enforcement bill."
Sandstrom's bill is modeled after Arizona's law, which requires local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws. The measure has been chewed over by supporters and critics for the past few months and has been the center of debate in Utah because it is the only bill that has been made public. But several other lawmakers reportedly are working on immigration-related bills or resolutions that tackle guest-worker and employment aspects of the immigration issue.
The Herbert meeting was requested by the Hispanic Assembly, which also huddled with Sandstrom last week to discuss his bill. In that meeting, the Orem Republican took suggested changes from the group but said the latest draft "is pretty much the bill now."
"The only thing I'm changing," he said, "is technical wording at this point."
Michael Clara, chairman of the Hispanic Assembly, called the meeting Friday with Herbert "productive" and said the governor's message was clear: Enforcement is going to be a part of immigration reform in Utah, but it's not the only component that needs to be addressed.
Clara also said Herbert asked the Hispanic Assembly to take ownership on Latino issues beyond illegal immigration notably in education.
"The governor said he often hears complaints there aren't enough Hispanics in state government, but not enough are graduating from high school, either," Clara said. "He said we, as a Hispanic community, have an obligation to work to solve that problem."
Gloria Cardenas Conn, a West Valley City lawyer who works with immigration issues and attended the meeting, said she was encouraged by the tenor of the dialogue.
"It was an incredibly respectful meeting," she said, "and it was a meaningful discussion, and it was a chance for him to discover our concerns about the impacts of proposed legislation."
P Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is drafting a resolution asking Congress to tackle changing the birthright clause of the 14th Amendment.
The Sutherland Institute is working with state lawmakers on an employment-only bill.
Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, reports that his enforcement-only bill is mostly complete.