The bills as follows (click on the designation to read the actual text of the bill):
-- HB116: Originally entitled the Guest Worker Program Act, it was signed as the Utah Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments. It basically establishes a guest worker program. This is the bill arousing the most opposition.
-- HB466: Entitled the Migrant Workers and Related Commission Amendments. Includes a migrant worker partnership with the state of Nuevo Leon in Mexico.
-- HB469: Entitled Immigration Related Amendments. Enacts the Utah Pilot Sponsored Resident Immigrant Program Act, and provides for the issuance of identification documents.
-- HB497: Entitled the Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act, this started out as Utah's equivalent to Arizona SB1070 promoted by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem). Originally a well-designed law, Sandstrom was prevailed upon to water it down somewhat. Nevertheless, its most prominent and commendable provision requires that an officer verify the immigration status of a person arrested for a felony or a class A misdemeanor and a person booked for class B or C misdemeanors and requires that an officer attempt to verify immigration status for a person detained for a class B or C misdemeanor.
The Deseret News notes that the legislature's own attorneys have deemed the guest worker and immigrants sponsorship programs unconstitutional, meaning the state would need a waiver from the federal government to put them into practice.
In addition, an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints showed up at the signing ceremony and appeared to give official LDS Church support for the bills. The Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, H. David Burton, was present, and said, “Our presence here testifies to the fact that we are appreciative of what has happened in the Legislature this session. We feel the Legislature has done an incredible job on a very complex issue.” In her story, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack suggested Burton's presence was no accident or private decision. Burton is among the group of senior leaders of the Church known as General Authorities; when a General Authority appears in public in an official capacity, it is generally assumed he speaks authoritatively for the Church.
One LDS lawmaker admitted that the Church's support for these bills influenced him. Sen. Stuart Reid (R-Ogden) said “There is no question that the Utah Compact, with the church’s endorsement, made a significant difference to me and others in the Legislature who helped craft immigration legislation.” Senate President Mike Waddoups said the legislation was a testament to the give-and-take process of making laws. He also explained that the new laws did not grant amnesty nor would they result in racial profiling. The bills were not carbon copies of bills passed in Arizona, Oklahoma or Missouri. And House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart said she was proud of lawmakers who rolled up their sleeves and took on one of most vexing issues of the day amid intense criticism from people who had no answers of their own. Governor Herbert said, "Utah is doing the right thing, is doing the hard thing. Doing nothing is not an option".
But there's opposition. Arturo Morales-Llan, a GOP delegate, said in a statement that Herbert's signature of HB116 "is the worst insult the legal residents of Utah have ever received by their sitting governor! HB116 is typical Washington-style politics and we condemn its practice by our elected officials. This new law puts a stamp of approval on illegal immigration and those who come into this country illegally. This fatally flawed law confirms that Utah is a sanctuary state." An online petition to veto HB116, which was signed by 4,500 people, made it clear that they do not approve of HB116 and would rather see enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. Morales-Llan also said he would not believe the Church officially approved of these bills until he sees a statement from the First Presidency itself.
Ron Mortensen, an ardent opponent of illegal immigration, was also unhappy with the legislation, saying, “I am shocked that the church would support a bill that literally sacrifices 50,000 Utah children, who are the victims of identity theft, for the benefit of illegal aliens. The church has sent so many conflicting messages, I just don’t know where they are coming from.”
The LDS Church's position on illegal immigration has been somewhat ambiguous. In February 2008, Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of the Seventy (a General Authority) characterized illegal immigration as nothing more than a "civil trespass", saying that "There is nothing inherent or wrong about that status." Bishops and stake presidents customarily do not inquire about the immigration status of members when conducting worthiness interviews, ordaining members to Priesthood positions, or setting apart members as missionaries. In April 2009, an illegal immigrant serving as a missionary was arrested by Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents in Cincinnati. At the time, LDS spokesman Michael Purdy explained "The church does not have an official position on immigration policy, but encourages compassion in dealing with the complexities of immigration issues. The blessings of the church are available to anyone who qualifies for membership and accepts the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church will continue to focus on the spiritual well-being of its members while complying with the law. Immigration status is an issue left to each individual and the corresponding government authorities." Earlier this year, the Salt Lake Tribune outed an LDS branch president in the Salt Lake Valley who was also an illegal immigrant (unable to find the link).
One individual who previously identified as a former Mormon expressed his frustration on Stormfront. Richyrichard wrote:
The LDS Church is going down the tube fast. They want to be a "world church". Its now run like a big corporation with church leaders acting more like corporate executives than religious leaders. KSL News is one of the corporations owned by the Church so, naturally, they will always report favorably for the Church.
The crappy article is more favorable propaganda than a news report. It says little about what these laws will actually do. Most of the article is just a sales pitch for the laws: the Church supports it, people compliment the legislature for their hard work and dedication, blah, blah, blah.
It did say, however, that Utah's own legal department believes the laws are unconstitutional. No kidding! The State proposes to nullify federal immigration laws that make it a crime to enter the US illegally. This would seem to make the State of Utah a partner in crime.
And, of course, they continue to label all illegals as immigrants rather than aliens. Such a classification ignores the illegals who are not actually immigrating here but who are drug dealers, arms smugglers, or felons fleeing arrest warrants in Mexico.
These laws and their sponsors also say nothing about welcoming illegals from Europe, only Mexico. Nordics need not apply!
Now, here's what the article does NOT say, but I speak from past experience in the Church: this is a wonderful missionary tool to win new converts to the Church!!! I assure you, the Church sees it just that way! They love injuns and mexicans as much as they do Jews and negroes. Nordics are no longer the focus of their attention.
Another Stormfront poster notes a difference between Utah Mormons and those who live in out in what is colloquially referred to as the "mission field":
The Morons (Mormons) brought the cannibal monkey Somoans into to Utah. Let's not forget that. The Morons wanted to get on the race mixing band wagon.
In my opinion the Morons in Utah (other areas aren't so bad) are under a cult-like mind control. And before you start making posts that I don't know what I am talking about, be informed that my ancestors arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young. I don't need your BS.
I believe Salt Lake has had a pretty high crime rate for decades. The place has a bizarre element -- an alienated, depressed sub culture that mirrors the religion. Take a drive up and down the miles long State Street, observing the swaggering stoners and glut of pawn shops, to get a quick taste of Moronism in action.
Another source of conflict is that the LDS Church's Twelfth Article of Faith states, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law". How calling an illegal immigrant to serve a mission squares with "sustaining the law" is unclear.
In any event, if these laws stand, particularly HB116, Utah stands to become the first sanctuary state for illegal immigrants in the United States. Of course, it's an open invitation for Arizona to dump all of its illegals into the Beehive State, since Arizona takes a much more uncompromising and patriotic stance towards the issue.