Brief background first: Just as the well covered HB477 (GRAMA/government records access) limitation bill was rapidly rammed through by the Utah State Legislature with scant debate, so was HB116. HB116 was written in the Senate’s back chambers (initially as SB288 – the initial text of SB288 was placed into HB116) by Senator Curt “Bramnesty” Bramble (along with special interests) out of public view and then rushed through the House and Senate with negligible debate and a lack of public scrutiny. It is highly unlikely that legislators read the bills before voting. Ironically, HB 116 was rushed through the exact same night as HB477. Both bills are “two peas in a pod” (my thoughts on HB477 can be found here).
HB116 is a behemoth covering a myriad of issues related to illegal immigration. However, included in it all is a guest worker visa specifically granted to illegal immigrants (otherwise known as amnesty). Just as with Obamacare, some flaws were already known (such as the unconstitutionality) but others are being realized.
One flaw may well have national impacts and may be exasperated by Utah’s Attorney General. Mark Shurtleff met with Obama’s AG, Eric Holder to push the legislation (see here too). If the Obama administration buys off on the state work visa, two national and one local danger arise:
1. The visa could be viewed by business as having federal approval. Thus any illegal worker with a Utah guest visa could be hired by any business regardless of which state they are in (ie the visa is considered valid on a national scale).
2. If the above (1) is correct, the Obama (or subsequent) administration could circumvent Congress and effectively institute a backdoor amnesty under the program.
3. If either 1 and 2 are correct, Utah will become a major gateway for illegal immigrants. While most would not stay here, plenty would come to get the Utah visa and head off to work in another state.
The above are potential problems dependent on a given set of assumptions. The following flaws, however, are not. There are current problems found in the bill detailed by a communication from the Davis County 9/12 project:
Some Major Flaws with 3SHB116
1. The bill opens the state of Utah up to a mass inflow of illegal aliens. The ready availability of high quality, fraudulent documents will allow virtually all of the estimated twelve to twenty million illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S. to show proof or residence or employment in Utah prior to the May 10, 2011 cut-off date for amnesty, since the state has no official record of illegal aliens who have lived or worked in Utah prior to May 10, 2011.
2. The bill allows illegal aliens who are issued work permits to collect legally available welfare benefits. Those granted a work permit will be able to receive benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and WIC for their American born children.
3. All illegal aliens who have committed crimes yet have not been convicted of those crimes will be allowed to obtain work permits. Thus, gang members involved in drug trafficking, extortion, assault and battery, etc. who live in Utah and who have not been convicted will get work permits as long as they have a job, which most do. Illegal aliens using Utah children’s stolen identities to get jobs will get work permits as long as they haven’t been convicted of identity theft. An illegal alien who is a convict in his home country will be granted a Utah work permit as long as he has a job because there will be no record of his crime in the U.S. A potential terrorist, who is not on the U.S. list of terrorists, who entered the U.S. on a visa and overstayed will be issued a Utah job permit, because he has no criminal record.
4. The bill sacrifices the 50,000 to 70,000 Utah children who are the victims of illegal alien identity theft by ignoring the damage done to them and allowing those using their identities to live and work legally in Utah. (The provision in the bill to compensate the victims of identity theft only kicks in once there has been a conviction or guilty plea. This will only cover a handful of the tens of thousands of victims as these crimes are rarely prosecuted.)
5. This bill disadvantages legal immigrants who played by the rules to pay the price in order to come to the United States legally. It also shortchanges all who obey and respect our laws by waiting their turn to legally immigrate to the United States. In addition, the work permit is only available to illegal aliens. Foreign nationals currently in the United States legally on temporary work visas are not eligible for the work permit.
6. The bill is unconstitutional and yet it automatically goes into effect in 2013.
7. The bill’s provisions to withhold Social Security and income taxes will only work if a waiver is granted. If the bill goes into effect without a waiver, employers will be in violation of payroll tax laws and subject to severe penalties should they hire a person with a Utah guest worker permit. Paying payroll and income taxes to the state will not meet federal requirements and will leave employers in serious legal jeopardy.
8. The bill’s requirements to use E-Verify and U-Verify together will only work if the feds grant a waiver from current E-Verify requirements. Employers using E-Verify are required to use it for every new hire; thus they can’t use U-Verify as the bill mandates for new hires with Utah work permits, unless a waiver to the E-Verify requirements is granted. If the bill enters into effect without the waiver, it will create serious problems for employers.
9. Under current federal immigration law, a waiver for this bill, allowing illegal immigrants to work, is not possible. It would require an act of Congress signed by the President to change existing law. As shown, this bill requires obtaining multiple waivers from multiple federal agencies. This is NOT a good solution under current federal law. For additional information, see the constitutional note at the very end of the bill.
10.This bill also violates the following portions of the Utah State Republican Party Platform, which the Republicans swore to uphold– “We oppose illegal immigration and all forms of amnesty, or legal status, for illegal immigrants…We oppose granting government benefits to those illegally present in the US. We oppose any temporary or “guest” worker program that would offer an automatic path to citizenship. We believe that current laws against employing illegal immigrants should be vigorously enforced, particularly to stem the now too common crime of identity theft in obtaining employment.” And, “ We support the “Rule of Law” and believe in upholding the law of the land” http://www.utgop.org/docs/Utah%20Republican%20Party%20Platform%202009.pdf
Governor Herbert recently had 100 State Delegates ask him to veto the bill. Please lend you voice to the same – it does make a difference! Governor Herbert can be contacted at:
Phone: 801-538-1000 or 1-800-705-2464 Fax: 801-538-1528 (or email form)
UPDATE (3/11): It looks like Governor Herbert may try to stall things out in an attempt to let the ‘heat die down’ (especially after more delegates turned up yesterday urging his veto): He has two weeks to sign/veto the bill and the new tactic may be to wait opposition out until the attention dies down and calls subside, then claim ‘everyone seems ok with it now’ and sign the bill. In other words, vigilance and daily calls/faxes/emails will be required over the next twenty days (three weeks).
UPDATE (4/12/11): Use this petition/website to call for the Repeal of HB116.
Here is an online petition which you can sign and it will be hand delivered to the Governor’s office on a daily basis but still call/fax/email as you can only sign once.
The paid, special interest lobbyists that wrote and rammed the bill through aren’t going to give up – neither can you!
*Note: HB70 referenced at the link is the early version of HB497.