Tag Archives: citizen lobbying

Immigration Reform – Repairing a Broken System

There are a number of immigration bills that have been signed into law in the past and new bills this year addressing immigration issues in Utah.

Mark Alvarez, Utah  Attorney, had a piece published in the Salt Lake Tribune in which he says,

In 2000, George W. Bush said, “Immigration is not a problem to be solved; it is the sign of a successful nation.” Candidate Bush said he wanted to make policy friendlier to immigrants. That effort froze on Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2008, Barack Obama said that America had nothing to fear from today’s immigrants: “Because we are all Americans. Todos somos Americanos. And in this country, we rise and fall together.”

Congressional debate will begin soon. Three main questions are: 1. Who should be able to come here? 2. How should border and internal enforcement be designed? 3. What should be done with undocumented immigrants?

Alvarez continues on by addressing 6 “points of contention”:

1. Family-based versus employment-based immigration.

2. Temporary workers versus permanent workers.

3. Skilled workers versus unskilled workers.

4. Genuine employment verification versus the status quo.

5. “Path to citizenship” versus “amnesty.”

6. Illegal immigration versus legal immigration.

Read his points in their entirety here.

A Facebook group called Utahns for Immigration Reform has been created to advocate for a fair and just system of immigration for all people without violating anyone’s civil rights, regardless of immigration status.  The group calls for citizens to become engaged in the process of advocating for the repair of the current broken system and creating an equitable system for all people.   From the group’s page:

We can influence American immigration laws by being engaged in the process.

No person is illegal. Being undocumented is a violation of civil law, not criminal law. Federal immigration reform needs to happen now because the immigration system is terribly broken. We agree that all people should immigrate legally but in a broken system unfortunately that is not the reality.

The page continues on by describing how current legislation is damaging:

SB 81 is a now Utah law. The new law encourages racial profiling. Most law enforcement agencies in Utah understand that the law is an afront to civil rights and have refused to enforce it.

Immigration reform will make SB 81 unnecessary.

Cory Redstone, creator of Utahns for Immigration Reform issued this notice yesterday about SB251 Verification of Employment Eligibility and   HB 428 Non Resident Tuition Amendments

SB 251 is another employment verification bill. This bill mandates the use of E-verify for every employer, not just those contracting with the state as SB 81 did. Because E-verify has a %5 rate of inaccurate information this is just wasteful. Additionally the rate of failure could be used to discriminate against minority workers and cause undue delays in employment if a record is mistakenly flagged. There will be discrimination against businesses who are minority owned. They will face more scrutiny and undue harassment because of this law.

Make no mistake E-verify use is eventually going to be mandated on a federal level eventually but all of the kinks need to be worked out. We also need to see Comprehensive Immigration Reform so nobody works without documentation. Please call OR email your legislator and tell them to vote no on SB 251. Just one phone call from you can make a huge difference.

There is also a bill to take in-state tuition away from undocumented college students HB 428.

Here is the link to find your state Senator to call or email:

There is an analysis of HB428 at the Enriching Utah Coalition blog. (Read this coalitions mission and values here.)

Bills on immigration can be viewed here, but not all bills addressing immigration issues are in this category and in fact the bills referred and linked to in the above paragraphs are not listed on this page.  For example another bill that addresses health care for immigrant children up for consideration this year: SB44 Health Amendments for Legal Immigrant Children

One thing is evident:  The people must be engaged and getting their voices heard on these issues to address the unjust system currently in place.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

The Heat is On: Utah’s House Votes to Withdraw from Western Climate Initiave

Utah’s House yesterday voted to support HJR21 Joint Resolution on Energy Policy, which calls for Utah to withdraw from Climate Change Initiative.

Initially the Resolution used words like  “conspiracy”, claiming that efforts were afoot to manipulate climate change data.

Solve Climate, a publication on daily climate news and anaylsis, reports on action by Utah’s lawmakers:

Among other things, the resolution claims there is “a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome.”

A last-minute amendment removed the words “conspiracy,” “gravy train” and “tricks,” but the statements remaining are still inflammatory, echoing the claims of conservative groups such as the Heartland Institute, Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), and Utah’s Sutherland Institute.

A group of Brigham Young University scientists were so disturbed by the wording of the resolution, HJR 12, that they wrote to the legislature last week highlighting several inaccuracies and urging the legislature to reconsider.

“Even if all the political solutions proposed so far are flawed, this does not justify politicians in attacking the science that indicates there is almost certainly a serious problem,” the scientists told lawmakers.

The article continues to discuss Utah’s possible motives behind this resolution, along with a transcript of Rep. Mike Noel confronting a University of Utah’s Bioengineering professor’s opposition to the Resolution (Noel is reported, too, to have contacted Utah State University to complain about a Physics professor there who question the Resolution).  Read the article in its entirety here.

Drew Thompson, of  the Stop HJR 12 group on Facebook, sent out this message yesterday to citizens:

House Joint Resolution 21, which would call for the withdrawal of Utah from the Western Climate Initiative, passed in the House today [Thursday, February 25] by a margin of 52 to 18.  When it is assigned to a committee in the senate we will start to reach out to those committee members, and anyone interested in testifying at the senate committee hearing is encouraged to do so. To get live updates on HJR 21 visit http://le.utah.gov/~2010/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HJR021.htm and sign up to track the resolution.

HJR 12 will likely be voted on in the coming days. The best thing for [citizens] to do now is to contact members of the senate with [their] concerns. Senators care most about the opinion of their constituents. Find out who your senator is and call, write to, or email them you feelings about HJR 12. To find out what district you are in and who you senator is visit http://www.utahsenate.org/map.html. For students I would suggest writing to the senator from your parents’ district as the senators representing the U probably won’t support the resolution to begin with.

A petition to warn our elected officials about climate change is in circulation, and if you haven’t had a chance to sign it yet please visit the following link to learn more.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

“Unless you have been in our wheelchairs, you don’t know what it’s like….”

This is the message that  disabled citizens wanted to get across to legislators as they rallied yesterdayat the Utah Capitol in protest of the cuts being made to health care in Utah as part of HB67 Health System Amendments and the budget cuts being made this year.  The bill is before the Senate after passing the House on February 11th. (See previous post on this issue here.)

The Deseret News reported on the rally in today’s news.

“….[the legislators] are compounding the problem by supporting bills against health care reform,” said Stevie Edwards, a West Jordan resident who said he came to the Capitol to “do what I can to make sure that they understand that their positions have real-life consequences for those of us who depend on a little assistance just to get by.”

Several attending the rally, which was organized by the Disabled Rights Action Committee and the Anti-Hunger Action Committee, said the bill is premature, likely unconstitutional and makes outlandish claims without any convincing evidence to back them up.

“And they are compounding the problem by supporting bills against health care reform,” said Stevie Edwards, a West Jordan resident who said he came to the Capitol to “do what I can to make sure that they understand that their positions have real-life consequences for those of us who depend on a little assistance just to get by.”

Organizers of the rally had these things to say:

The coalition’s chairwoman, Barbara Toomer, who has been a wheelchair-bound disabled rights activist for years, said….”By bringing health care reform into this new push for state sovereignty, lawmakers should know they are reaching for that high ideal by standing on the backs of the disabled and the 258,000 uninsured citizens who would finally have coverage under federal reforms,” Toomer said.

Utah lawmakers pride themselves on being health care reform leaders in their own right, said Bill Tibbetts, head of the anti-hunger coalition. “So far, the main health care reform solution is to do less every year.”

Participants in the event are tired of fighting this issue year after year.

“This is not national health care reform leadership, and HB67 is a lie,” said protestor Jason Weeks, a disabled local keyboard player and Web-based music promoter.

“I’m just here to be part of the group that has to constantly fight tooth and nail to keep on being able to fight tooth and nail their whole lives,” Weeks said. “The federal options are not the obscenity some lawmakers are trying to make them out to be. Besides that, it hasn’t even happened yet, and who knows if it will.”

In an effort to avoid raising taxes, the legislators have proposed deep cuts to many services as part of this year’s budget balancing act.  (View post about budget proposal here.)

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Power to the People: Mobile Home Owners’ Rights

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

This past Saturday mobile home owners held a rally at the Salt Lake City Library to raise their voices in support of the more than 75,000 mobile home owners in Utah. According to a piece on KCPW’s website, hundreds were expected, but snowy weather impacted the numbers which reduced to about 40, according to a Salt Lake Tribune article on the event.
Typically, mobile home owners reside in mobile home parks where the land upon which their homes sit are owned by an entity.

Data compiled by[ Steve Anderson, president of Utah Manufactured Homeowners Action Group] Anderson showed that since 2004, lot rents have risen between 15 and 87 percent, while the consumer price index rose 11.2 percent each year.

Further, landlords in the past have held the right to notify home owners with only 90 days notice of a change in hands and notice to vacate. This resulted in home owners, especially those on fixed and low incomes, to have many who had lived much of their adult lives in the same home, to scramble to find housing since moving a home is quite an expensive venture.

“We’re treated as if we’re a closed market,” Anderson said. “We’re not a closed market. We’re a captured market.”
That captive situation exists, Anderson added, because it costs up to $20,000 to relocate a manufactured home from one park to another. And many mobile-home dwellers are retirees, widows, senior citizens and veterans living on tight budgets.

After years of no action for the protection of rights of mobile home owners against landlord greed, the Utah Legislature finally last yera passed a law required land owners to provide 9 months notice of transfer of ownership and notice to vacate the premises.
The group of homeowners will continue to put pressure on legislators this year to improve the rights of persons living in mobile homes. This will include making it attainable for home owers to form cooperatives with the intent of buying out the land owners.