Even after eight and a half years, legal and illegal immigrants in Utah, still fear about deportation. In the year 2011, the state of Utah’s legislation passed an immigration bill, which allows the police department to stop any individual they find doubtful. The law states that the police department is authorized to check the immigration documentation instantly, whether the suspected individual is living in the United States legally or illegally. Utah’s legislation claimed the bill as an alternative to Arizona’s anti-immigration stance, and this bill has created a considerable controversy across the nation.
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The main reason for Utah’s legislation to pass such bill started in the year 1999. In 1999, the state adopted a rule, which allowed illegal immigrants to get a driving license from the state’s “Division of Motor Vehicles.” After a couple of years, taking the law as an advantage, some of the illegal immigrants have registered to vote in the presidential election using the drivers permit. This issue has pressured Utah’s legislation to reexamine the law. In 2004, State Senator Curtis Scott Bramble along with Rep. Rebecca Dawn Lockhart, who was the member of Utah’s House of Representatives had requested an audit of state’s voting records. The results from the audit indicated that most of the illegal immigrants have registered to vote in the presidential election. The following year in 2005, taking the audit as a piece of supporting proof both the representatives, Lockhart and Bramble presented a new bill to the legislation.
The bill mainly replaced the driving license of the illegal immigrants with a driving privilege card, and the bill passed successfully in both the houses. Senator Bramble and Representative Lockhart’s bill particularly specified that the driving privilege cards are not eligible to register to vote in any U.S. elections. But, the cards can be used to get insurance, firearms, spirits, and can be used to drive legally in the United States.
The two main immigration problems that Utah is currently facing are, the separation of immigrant families at the U.S. borders and illegal working labor being deported back to their own counties. In June 2019, Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents have performed immigration raids in 10 major cities of Utah, and they have separated and deported approximately 2500 families (Imlay, 2019). These type of raids took place as soon as President Trump’s family separation policy was implemented. The family separation policy has sparked a big controversy across the nation, and it has changed the agenda of the immigration debate in America. The outrageous action by President Trump has led to a nationwide outcry, and hundreds of people from across the United States have gathered in Utah and demanded a change in the family separation policy.
The first year in the office, Trump’s administration has silently tried and tested out family separation policy and surprisingly it acted as a deterrent to families who were thinking about crossing the U.S. borders. Trump’s administration charged and locked up hundreds of parents who have illegally entered the United States. Parents who are locked up in the federal jails are not allowed to have their children with them, so the children are being separated, and the immigration enforcement agents are sending them to shelters. According to an article by NPR organization, parents who were dragged into federal courts by immigration enforcement officers were also ripping children from their arms without advance notice (Burnett, 2019). Hundreds of humanitarian organizations from across the world were demanding to change the policy, and even democrats and republicans in the congress were against this policy.
On the other hand, As Kelcy Brock mentioned in her article on the Dessert News website, since 2016 the deportations in Utah have doubled and according to the immigration enforcement agency immigration arrests have increased by more than 24 percent (Brock, 2019). In the case of economic contribution, in one of their new article CBS news stated that manufacturing and agriculture industries have profited up to $800 million from hiring illegal immigrants and also mentioned that half of the farmworkers in the U.S. are illegal immigrants and 15 percent of them lack proper paperwork (Dudley, 2019).
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The U.S. government can come up with many reasons on why the undocumented population is a significant threat to the society, but most of us don’t know that nearly 11 million illegal immigrants working in the U.S. are playing an important role in increasing economy. Undocumented immigrants pay proper taxes, start new businesses, and they always fill the jobs in the construction, agriculture, and in hospitality industries. According to the New American economy organization, almost $4.0 billion in taxes are collected from DACA eligible households (New American Economy, 2019). Deporting the illegal immigrants or restricting legal immigrants to get a job would result in a great recession to the U.S. economy.
Although Utah’s legislation has passed a strong law to protect illegal immigrants and noncitizens from deportation, the federal government still did not make any kind of strong decision about family separations and deportation policy. Since the beginning, President Trump was targeting illegal immigrants, and states like Utah have to tell the federal government that they value justice, efficiency, equality, and common sense in the United States immigration system.
- Burnett, John. “How The Trump Administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy Changed The Immigration Debate.” NPR, NPR, 20 June 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/06/20/734496862/how-the-trump-administrations-zero-tolerance-policy-changed-the-immigration-deba.
- Brock, Kelcy. “Guest Opinion: Family Separation Negatively Impacts Utah’s Workforce, Economy.” Deseret News, Deseret News, 17 Mar. 2019. https://www.deseret.com/2019/3/17/20668439/guest-opinion-family-separation-negatively-impacts-utah-s-workforce-economy.
- Dudley, Mary Jo. “These U.S. Industries Can’t Work without Illegal Immigrants.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 10 Jan. 2019. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/illegal-immigrants-us-jobs-economy-farm-workers-taxes/.
- Imlay, Ashley. “Threats of Deportation Raids Spark Fear in Utah Immigrant Community.” Deseret News, Deseret News, 22 June 2019. https://www.deseret.com/2019/6/22/20676215/threats-of-deportation-raids-spark-fear-in-utah-immigrant-community.
- “Undocumented Immigrants: How Immigration Plays a Critical Role.” New American Economy, New American Economy Orgnization, 15 July 2019. https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/issues/undocumented-immigrants/.