Just last week a family was deported back to Argentina from Utah, after they had lived here for ten years, and during which time they had been trying to become American citizens. Their children are completely unfamiliar with Argentina, and they face danger now that they have returned (or in some cases arrived for the first time) in Argentina. Is this what immigration should be? No.
Good immigration law should do its best to keep families together and to not place them in dangerous circumstances. I hope that these kinds of deportations will soon be a thing of the past. Several community leaders, in the past few minutes, have come together at the Utah State Capitol to ask that, in consideration of immigration reform, Utah legislators should take family health and integrity into account.
Consensus is building around what is called the Utah Compact, which is divided into five areas
- FEDERAL SOLUTIONS — That "Immigration is a federal policy issue..."
- LAW ENFORCEMENT — That local law enforcement should "focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code."
- FAMILIES — That all laws should support and foster strong families and "and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children."
- ECONOMY — That we should recognize and respect the significant contributions that all immigrants make to Utah's economy.
- A FREE SOCIETY — That free societies are inclusive and that we should celebrate all cultures and history, and that "Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill."
"We follow Jesus Christ by loving our neighbors. The Savior taught that the meaning of 'neighbor' includes all of God's children, in all places, at all times.Now that's the kind of immigration reform I'm talking about. Arizona-style immigration laws were no doubt crafted in large part by people of good will who were trying to solve what they see as a clear problem. But the Arizona will leave a gaping and festering wound, and the approach won't work.
"We recognize an ever-present need to strengthen families. Families are meant to be together. Forced separation of working parents from their children weakens families and damages society.
The Utah Compact approach will work. As a veteran of the United States military who has gone overseas to protect America's freedom, I hope to look back on Veteran's Day 2010 as not only the day that due respect was paid to military veterans, but also the beginning of the triumph of respect for diversity and the day that good, healthy American immigration reform began.