Two weeks ago, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed off on a bundle of immigration bills that were introduced as proactive alternatives to the Arizona copycat bill which was also signed into law. One of the measures will allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to carry a state-issued guest worker permit. A separate bill will create a migrant worker partnership with Mexico and the third will allow Utahns to sponsor migrants wanting to work or study in the state.
Today, opponents of those bills launched a new website called www.repeal116.com. The site was started by the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration which includes the Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration, CitizensForTaxFairness.org, Constitution Coalition, Constitution Party of Utah, Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, the Utah Eagle Forum and the Utah Minuteman Project. Brandon Beckham, a Republican state delegate with his own new media firm which helped develop the site hopes to use the website to “emphasize the consequences of our elected officials’ actions…while also encouraging them to step up and do the right thing — repeal HB116.”
As part of that effort, the front page of the website contains a video featuring state Rep. Chris Herrod (R). Herrod lamenting that “political correctness is used to shut down debate.” Herrod calls on “brave individuals” to face down the threat of being called “racist”:
Many fail to realize how radically different immigration trends are today than in the past. Our melting pot is in danger. Tolerating illegal immigration is wrong, sometimes we’re not quite sure how to explain it. Tolerating illegal immigration is actually a racist position.
Most of us simply understand the importance of the rule of law and that it is wrong to discriminate against the millions of immigrants who are waiting patiently in line to come to the country legally.
Herrod goes on to complain that a large portion of undocumented immigrants are poor Latin American immigrants and not middle class Mexicans and Europeans who want to come to the U.S. He’s not the first person to accuse immigration advocates of reverse racism.
Yet, the U.S. immigration quota system already takes into account the number and makeup of immigrants who can legally enter the United States — something which actually puts countries like Mexico at a disadvantage because the demand to legally enter the U.S. is so high. Mexicans who want to come to the U.S. may have to wait 18 years or more for a visa.
Herrod is right about the fact that several members of his party have a difficult time talking about immigration without being called racist. For example, there’s the Kansas state Representative who said we should shoot immigrants like “wild swine” and the Alabama state Senator who advised Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done” to stop immigrants from “destroying” his community. Meanwhile, no one is really talking about tolerating illegal immigration. The debate is largely divided between those advocating for tolerance and constructive solutions and those who promote just the opposite.