SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican senators worried about the number of immigration bills in the Utah Legislature are pushing for one comprehensive bill, even as a second bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants has been unveiled.
Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, told The Associated Press House that Bill 116 will allow illegal immigrants already in the state to register for a guest worker permit.
Wright said his bill, which was introduced Friday, recognizes the economic importance of illegal immigrants, instead of focusing on deportation.
"We can't just be proscriptive," Wright said. "This is our only option to move forward."
Family members of permit holders could also stay under the proposal.
Permit holders would be prohibited from accessing government assistance programs, including unemployment and health care.
Utah would need a federal waiver to run the program. However, according to a note on the bill by legislative attorneys, the federal government doesn't have a process to acquire such a waiver.
Without a waiver the bill has a "high probability" of being declared unconstitutional.
Wright's bill is one of more than a half-dozen immigration proposals in the Legislature.
Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said his caucus is worried all of the issues won't be addressed by individual bills.
Instead, Senate Republicans want one bill that balances amnesty, enforcement, and business-focused legislation.
"The Senate would like to deal with all of them and have a bill that puts a program together instead of running the risk of just one thing happening," Waddoups said. "We would like to have a complete program that meets all of the community's needs."
Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, the sponsor of a bill modeled on Arizona's immigration law, opposes both proposals because they include amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"I have heard from many thousands of Utahns who want a strong enforcement bill passed this session and I will focus on that," Sandstrom said in a statement.Tags: