HB116 – Will it divide or unite?
After watching the overwhelming division of the Republican Party on HB 116, I wondered if this division can make our party stronger? I believe the answer is yes. While I voted my conscience on the repeal of HB116, it does not mean that I do not understand or sympathize with the other side. In fact, I probably land more on the side of those that support HB 116 than most would think.
I think the vote would have come out much differently had delegates stayed to do their duty. I watched most of my county leave immediately following the elections of the party officers, including some of the county leadership. That was unfortunate. I do not know which side of the issue they fell on, but their voice was unheard.
What did the Repeal of HB116 resolution do? Actually, nothing. Having the delegates stand and say they want something doesn’t mean it will actually happen. However, it does put pressure on our legislators to do something, but in the end, they can do what they want. But, they have heard the voice of the delegates. While some delegates were adamant about the repeal, others, like myself, felt this was not something that really should have taken up so much of our energy. This is just one issue, although I believed the reason I chose to repeal was valid. Those who act like anyone that voted for this legislation should be thrown out, need to calm down. You paint yourselves as an angry mob instead of acting like statesmen. I have deliberately held my tongue on this issue because the frenzy that surrounded it seemed so out-of-place.
The 10th Amendment: Clearly our state must put forward legislation that sends a strong message to our federal government. We do need to take matters into our own hands. We must continue to fight the battle for state sovereignty. But in order to make these battles work, we need to be able to win.
Constitutional? Yes and no. Yes it’s Constitutional when you look at the original intent of the Constitution, but under current views, it will not be held as constitutional because the Federal government has stripped away state sovereignty in today’s America. It is my hope that this extra pressure from the delegates will push the legislature to make the necessary changes to HB116 to bring it into full compliance, next session. A letter sent to delegates by The Salt Lake Chamber stated, “We may not be able to achieve a federal waiver. It may be deemed unconstitutional. The penalty for being here illegally and for businesses that break the law may not be high enough.” One person, in public office in my county, that is highly in favor of HB116, testified before the legislature that HB116 was unconstitutional. What we are trying to achieve with this legislation is probably a good thing in theory, however, the ramifications of passing laws that will be deemed unconstitutional will eventually come back and haunt us. Yes, almost all of the Republican party wants to see immigration laws change. The Republican party wants to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows. The Republican party wants to follow the rule of law. On this we agree. Therefore, we must find a way to construct a bill, or amend the current legislation to bring this bill into compliance.
Why is Constitutionality such a sticking point? I’ve heard the argument that a message bill is fine if it fits your agenda. While this is a message bill, what exactly is the message? After many, like Mike Lee, have said that a waiver will most likely not be granted by the federal government, and the bill does not go into effect, there are many that claim it sends a message to Washington. Maybe the message we are sending is the wrong one. Let’s take the immigration issue out of the equation for a moment, and talk about the theory. What happens when a state (even ours) puts forward a bill that we highly disagree would be good for our state or any other state for that matter. What happens when we discover that the highly unprincipled idea is also unconstitutional? Are we going to scream and cry and raise our voices and decry, “This is unconstitutional?” If we do not ask for repeal, or correction to HB 116, then we will become hypocrites, when the situation is something with which we disagree. We will have set a very dangerous precedent.
We all know our Federal government is completely failing in regard to immigration. The doors are not open wide enough for legal immigrants, the red-tape is far to cumbersome, and the delays are devastating to renewal of visas creating illegal status. I disagree with those that claim HB116 creates cheap labor. I disagree with many of my colleagues that claim HB116 is amnesty. The point is, if this bill is unconstitutional and goes against our party platform, we as Republicans have no business even bringing it to the table until it complies. If, we as states, want to bring the idea of immigration back to the states, then we must amend the Constitution, or get a coalition of states to join us in repealing the federal government’s authority on immigration.
Here’s what we can do in the mean time.
Rights vs. Entitlements: We can look at legislation that cuts any and all entitlements to non-citizens. This is the root of the problem. This is what has most people up in arms. We can call on private citizens, churches, and non-profit organizations to help pick-up to the slack for any individuals truly needing help, while they either begin the process of becoming a citizen or help them return to their own countries. We can remember that all people on this earth are here as God’s children, and deserve to be treated that way. We can remember that rights come from God, not our government. Whether people are here legally or not, they still have rights. They do not have rights to entitlements, but they are still people with human rights.
English vs. anything else: We need to call upon citizens, and non-profit organizations to teach English to immigrants and their children before they enter grade school, at low or no cost. This helps the schools, this helps employment, and this helps continue with the great melting-pot of our nation. No one is asking people to give up their culture, but we are asking that you do what you can to learn ours.
American vs. hyphenated-American: We need to teach immigrants the beauty of being an American. Help individuals understand our history, our diversity, our language, and how American opportunities will help them. multiculturalism doesn’t work. American Exceptionalism does. Teach people how to be owners (Georgics) again.
Enforce current laws vs. creating new ones: Enforce current laws on the books regarding identity theft, and other crimes. We do not need to have a separate set of rules for illegal immigrants. Laws should be enforced when an individual aggresses against another regardless of their status. If ICE will pick them up, that is their decision. If ICE will not get involved, prosecute them just as you would anyone else.
Free Market Labor vs. Minimum Wage Laws: Work to repeal minimum wage laws. This may not seem like a good argument for the “cheap labor” crowd, but labor is a mans’ to give at whatever price he or she deems is acceptable. This is your property. I am not told what price I must sell my home. But I get a price the market will bear. In the same token, I should not be told at what price I should sell my labor. I will get the price the market will bear. The artificial wage control by the federal government is a crime on it’s own. Everyone has different needs. Prices would probably go down, and most people would have their basic needs met even if wages dropped in the process. We would not need government subsidies for the dairy industry and other agriculture industries if men set their own wage.
People vs. status: Let’s all remember that people are at the very heart of this discussion. Everyone has dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Let’s make it easier to be here, easier to be an American, and welcome immigrants with open arms. Remember our individual rights come from God, not government, and so they belong to all people, from all nations. We are just lucky enough to live in a country where we still enjoy some of those individual rights.
Utah Resident vs. U.S. Citizens: This one is fuzzy to me, because I don’t hold a degree in Constitutional Law, but I have heard it said you can be a resident of the sovereign state of Utah, and be considered a foreign national and not a U.S. Citizen, sometimes referred to as a Permanent Resident Alien. If that is the case, then let’s use current law on the books to create that status for people who live here already, but have not aggressed beyond infractions. We all know “round ‘em up and ship ‘em out” is not only a horrible idea, but a very unpractical (and impossible) one as well. We must find a way to comply with our current Constitution. They can pay taxes, but being a documented resident of Utah does not necessarily give them rights to vote, if they are only a resident alien. But they will be documented and legally here. I could be way off, but, I hope this at least gets the discussion going.
TIME TO UNITE: This bill, while seemingly able to divide the party can actually create great strength in the party as we pull together to fix or repeal bad legislation and thoughtfully put forward legislation that cannot be argued by the Democrats as unconstitutional. Because the day will come when the other side will pull some huge shenanigans and if we are on the wrong side on this argument, we will have no ability to cry “unconstitutional” to their legislation. Republicans have always stood for their constitution and their platform. This is an inconvenient time, but it is the right thing to do. Being the party that leads on principle is not easy, but this is the party that can do it. To paraphrase the key-note speaker at Saturday’s convention, when you find a rat in a bottle of Coke, it sours you from buying Coke for a long time. As Republicans, we need to stick to our platform and principles, so our Republican base is not soured on future Republicans.