Editor’s Note: Mark Alvarez, a regular correspondent lays out in concise, terse, brilliant form Stephen Sandstrom’s latest foray into making legislation that is ridiculously untenable and intellectually embarrassing. By the way, readers looking to make some intelligible sense of the mindset of Sandstrom and countless other elected officials on this particular issue, please consider Peter Schrag’s book ‘Not Fit for Our Society Immigration and Nativism in America.’ You will see how the attitudes of Sandstrom and his ilk throughout American history have actively sought to use race-based arguments for restricting Irish, German, Slavic, Italian, Jewish, and Chinese immigrants.
“This is not ‘Arizona Light,’” Representative Stephen Sandstrom said after he “revealed” his “Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act.”
Meaning: “This is ‘Arizona Light.’”
Arizona Light largely mirrors Arizona’s SB1070, enjoined in a federal court. The proposal reveals more than just simple copying: it reveals a curious unfamiliarity with Utah law.
Section 76-9-1008 of Arizona Light virtually copies Section 63-99a-104 of SB81, which was passed by the 2008 Utah legislature and went into effect on July 1, 2009.
1. Sandstrom is ignorant of Utah law.
2. Sandstrom believes in flattery through imitation.
3. Sandstrom did not write his own bill.
Some comparisons to Arizona’s SB1070:
1. Police officers must check immigration status after a lawful stop, detention or arrest when reasonable suspicion exists as to the immigration status of the person stopped, detained or arrested.
2. Racial profiling prohibited.
3. Willful failure of alien to carry documents indicating lawful status.
4. Creation of a right to sue agencies that limit enforcement of federal immigration laws.
5. Frustration and desperation over federal inaction on immigration.
Arizona Light is less wordy than Arizona’s SB1070. It has shed provisions that proscribe day labor and the users of such labor.
Arizona Light does not contain a statement on legislative intent. Arizona’s SB1070 had the intent to “make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” In other words, the law aimed to put the screws to the undocumented population until it surrendered and left the state.
Arizona Light has revised Arizona SB1070 in an attempt at constitutionality. Its constitutionality could be argued, but the proposal is still misguided. Immigration reform by law and by logic must ultimately be carried out at the national level. Arizona Light would be costly, divisive and disruptive for Utah, which already has substantial economic pressures to deal with in delivering a balanced budget for a state that continues to be among the fastest growing in terms of population.
Sandstrom’s ignorance is dangerously irresponsible and would levy a negative economic impact upon the state requiring years to undo. Bad politics make bad policy which, in turn, makes bad law. A forthcoming article in the Cardozo Law Review documents the first empirical study of its kind in looking at the economic impact of laws regarding local immigration regulation that have been passed by cities and counties since 2005. The authors demonstrate these laws had a 1 to 2 percent negative effect on employment. For the average county, this translates to a range of about 337 to 675 lost jobs, affecting authorized and unauthorized workers. While employment in some industries, such as restaurants, dropped, others gained, including grocery and liquor stores, in a specific jurisdiction. Most importantly, it underscores why immigration reform must be based not on assumptions but empirical evidence.
We face challenges in education, health and economics. Let’s work on those.
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