The Utah Compact: A Wise Acknowledgment Of Federal Immigration Authority

While legislators in several states have lined up to mimic Arizona's controversial state immigration law, a range of voices in one state have proposed a policy approach that recognizes the federal government's proper role as the national gatekeeper. In a statement of principles they have called the Utah Compact, business leaders, prominent public servants, law enforcement officials and religious figures have endorsed policies based on moderation and civility to counter "the complex challenges associated with a broken national immigration system."

The New York Times recently praised the effort for the "welcome contrast it draws with the xenophobic radicalism of places like Arizona." The compact acknowledges that immigration issues must be handled by the U.S. government and other countries, and states that local law enforcement must focus on fighting crime rather than squandering resources on enforcement of federal civil codes. Recognizing that immigrants provide value to the communities they inhabit as workers and taxpayers, the signers also caution against policies that end up dividing families as contrary to the principle that "strong families are the foundation of successful communities."

Meanwhile, elected officials in some states have pledged to draw a line in the sand to thwart sound immigration policy. At a November meeting of the Colorado Republicans in Denver, a newly elected state senator announced his intention to introduce an immigration law similar to Arizona's SB 1070 when the state legislature convenes in January. And a prominent Florida state senator has already sponsored a bill that would empower local police to request and review immigration documents after an arrest or during a lawful detention of a suspected undocumented immigrant.

Proving that Utah does not speak with a single voice of common sense, one state legislator recently pledged that his bill based on the Arizona model, the Utah Immigration Enforcement Act, is alive and well.

Immigration Lawyers Provide Insight And Advocacy As Policies Collide

While immigration issues are the source of fervent debate in many jurisdictions, the issue is particularly important in border states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Immigration attorneys can advise clients about every aspect of federal law relevant to obtaining visas or citizenship in the United States.

An immigration lawyer who is well-versed in the complexities of federal administrative law can advise clients and employers about sound strategies for achieving legitimate status. Deportation and removal defense, and applications for adjustments of status (green cards) are but a few of the legal processes that stand between an aspiring productive citizen and legal status as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.