My thoughts & observations on Utah Compact votes at Utah County GOP

The proposal to adopt the Utah Compact as part of the Utah County GOP platform failed with 95 in favor and 179 against. The press and democrats immediately jumped on vote and said that Utah C0unty Republicans are anti-immigrant.

The new immigration wording in the platform that was passed by a super majority of 167 in favor to 71 opposed.

However, I wanted to describe the reasons that I thought and heard that are reasons that Utah County Republicans did not support it.

  1. The Utah Compact was written by a “tiny tent” of interested groups that all had things to gain by writing the Utah Compact as they did. This was not a “big tent” resolution that invited all stake holders to be involved in the discussion. If a law was written that was only written by lobbyists for a specific issue and did not get discussion and by-in by all impacted parties, we would not think it was a good law. But that is exactly how we got the Utah Compact. Only those that would benefit from the Compact were included in the discussion and not the other stakeholders that would lose from it.
  2. The Utah Compact is a public document that can not be amended or changed by 3rd party groups by such as the Utah County Republican Party. Our choice was to adopt it as written or reject it as written. It was a binary choice of either all or nothing.
  3. There are 2 main wording problems with the Utah Compact that people I spoke with had concerns about. One is a very serious problem and the other is a lesser problem.
    1. The first and most serious problem is that the Utah Compact sets law and policy of what Law Enforcement Officers can and can’t do. This goes against what most of us believe about how laws should be created. The language “Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.” This statement is way to broad and prohibits cooperation between local, state, county and federal law enforcement. While I understand the objective of this statement, it can have far reaching un-intended consequences.
    2. The second and lesser problem with the language of the compact is “We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families.” In addition to this being completely false, it is also a very broad ranging statement which can also have un-intended consequences.  Of course law and order folks believe that families can be separated in the event that a crime has been committed. People are placed in jail and separated from their families on a daily basis, when a crime is committed.  We would like to keep families together as a general practice, but when a individual makes the choice to commit a crime, they are the one that is choosing to separate families and not the Utah County GOP. As I spoke to Stan Lockhart about this point, he said that the word “unnecessarily” is the wiggle word (my word, not his) that allows everyone to interpret this as they would like. It lets law and order people feel justified when necessary and at the other end of the spectrum it lets Utah Compact supporters say that families should be kept together no matter what crimes have been committed.
    3. Another concern that I had was a technical term. In the proposal it said ”We support the five principles” of the Utah compact. This locked the Utah GOP into supporting all of the principles even if we disagreed with one or two of them. If the wording had said “we agree with much” or even “we agree with most” then that would have been more technically accurate.
    4. Another common concern is that the Utah Compact is too soft and squishy and full of platitudes. The wording was chosen so that it could be interpreted in multiple ways. While this is good to get people to sign on to the Utah Compact, it also makes for bad policy since it can be interpreted different ways.

The wording that the Utah GOP agreed to was an important improvement over the existing language covering immigration. The existing language has grown stale and everyone agrees that it needs to be updated. This was the old language before the change was made:

We support reforming the immigration system to ensure that it is legal, safe, orderly and humane; as such we support the 2008 National Republican Party Platform under the title of Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law. We also support measures to ensure that the immigration system is structured to address the needs of national security. We support efforts to enforce the law while welcoming immigrants who enter America through legal avenues. America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants. We support the Constitutional mandate for the federal government to protect and secure our national borders. Taxpayers should not be covering state benefits for illegal aliens.

This is the new wording that passed by a super-majority of Utah County Republicans of 169 in favor while 71 opposed.

The United States of America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants. We welcome people of goodwill from all other countries immigrating through a system that is legal, safe, orderly, and humane and addresses the needs of national security. Our nation is stronger when immigrants weave themselves into the fabric of our common language and culture of personal liberty, self-reliance, family values, and the rule of law.

First, we support the constitutional mandate for the federal government to protect and secure our national borders. Failure to do so threatens our national security and is unfair to hardworking people around the world who follow the process to immigrate legally.

Second, we support a fair and efficient immigration approval process that is consistent with national economic needs, that provides equal access to persons of all nationalities, and does not favor those who come here illegally over those who seek to come here lawfully.

Third, we support a humane approach to reconciling the status of illegal immigrants that respects both justice and compassion, does not reward illegal behavior, and does not create incentives for future illegal immigration. We support policies that strengthen families. Parents have a responsibility to act lawfully so their children are not negatively impacted.

Taxpayers should not be covering state benefits for illegal aliens.

 

Fellow Utah County Delegates that I spoke to about this felt that this wording was more specific and more appropriate as a guiding policy than the nebulous wording of the Utah Compact.

I think that Utah County Delegates are open to additional changes wording changes that reflects the changing attitudes toward immigration. I fully expect this wording to be updated on an annual basis over the next few years.

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