Salt Lake City, UT
Utah state legislators traveled to Arizona this week to learn more about SB 1070’s impact on deterring illegal immigration. The Beehive State, which harbors upward of 110,000 illegal aliens, is also planning to consider Arizona-style immigration reform in January 2011.
Utahns are broadly supportive of Arizona: 65% of registered voters in Utah favor emulating Arizona’s SB 1070. This includes 76% of Republicans, 34% of Democrats, 51% of Catholics, 75% of Protestants, and 68% of Mormons. As in Mississippi and Arizona, Hispanic advocacy groups, the cheap labor lobby, and human rights organizations are leading the opposition.
Utah is another state where White conservative voters have revolted against the GOP establishment. Earlier this year, Senator Bob Bennett lost the Republican nomination to Mike Lee, a Tea Party challenger. In 2006, Bennett voted in favor of the Bush amnesty. Mike Lee, who will likely win in November, opposes “comprehensive immigration reform.”
The shifting sands of immigration reform have undermined Republican moderates in Utah. Senator Orrin Hatch, who supported the DREAM Act and the Bush amnesty, is already doing his best imitation of John McCain. Hatch will stand for re-election in 2012 with a primary target on his back.
On Wednesday, before the Senate adjourned until after the midterm elections, Hatch introduced the “Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act.” The bill would deputize local law enforcement officials and force recalcitrant ones to work with ICE or lose federal funding. It also eliminates the possibility of a mass amnesty.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey reintroduced “comprehensive immigration reform” in the Senate. Hatch responded by dismissing it as a “cynical ploy for votes.” Last month, Orrin Hatch joined John McCain and Lindsey Graham in voting against the DREAM Act, which all three had once supported. Without Republican support, the Menendez bill will die in the final lame duck session of the 111th Congress.
Texas and New Mexico support Arizona-style immigration reform. The Arizona law also finds support in Colorado where 58% of voters support a similar overhaul. In Colorado, Tom Tancredo is surging in the gubernatorial race ahead of Dan Maes, the fading Republican candidate, and has cut Democrat John Hickenlooper’s lead down to ten points.
The Arizona domino effect is playing out in neighboring Western states and throughout the South. A moderate police action by a desperate state invited a vicious polarizing overreaction by the arrogant multiculturalist establishment. Next year, the opponents of “comprehensive immigration reform” will likely reap the dividends on both the national and state level.
Arizona has show us the path forward. Are we willing to chart the proper course? That remains to be seen.