Immigration is a federal issue and must be dealt with by the federal government -- this is a common response by community activists to bills proposed in the state Legislature. The response was the same for legislation proposed by state Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, that would allow undocumented immigrants to live and work in Utah as long as they registered.
The proposed Utah Pilot Accountability Permit Program Act would, among other things, require the governor to petition necessary waivers, exemptions or authority to implement the program, require an adult unauthorized alien in the state to obtain a permit and impose requirements on a business to obtain the services of a permit worker.
"We believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to make changes and updates to immigration laws," said Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce President Dave Hardman.
"Our focus is much more in line with what came out with the Utah Compact than what we are having with this piece of legislation."
In the past, the Chamber of Commerce's task force on immigration reform also has opposed punitive bills such as the ones proposed by state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem.
The chamber believes laws must be enforced, but says the mass deportation of all undocumented residents would be a humanitarian disaster.
It supports the current legislation, which does not make it mandatory for undocumented immigrants to be handed over to federal immigration officials.
From an economic standpoint, Hardman said he is afraid that passing such a bill would attract too many people to the state during a rough economy.
"If we pass that law and we provided work permits, we become a magnet for those who want to come to our state and work, and we'll be buying all of their problems," he said.
More people, legal or otherwise, need more health care and education and have other needs, Hardman said. Right now, Utah has a natural number of migrants coming into the state to work.
"Three years ago, we were begging for enough people to cover the jobs," Hardman said. Now, with a sour economy, Utah has thousands of people out of work.
Attorney and activist Mark Alvarez had harsher words regarding the bill.
"I think it's a mess," he said. "The proposal is a mess."
Alvarez believes Utah has already petitioned the federal government to get state permits for workers and was denied.
The country's immigration system might be broken, he said, but it is not Utah's responsibility to fix it. Because Utah does not even have an international border, Alvarez said, Utah is not the place to develop immigration policy.
"I believe the proposal is a political game to combat the Sandstrom bill," he said.
If it is a bill to combat legislation such as that proposed by Sandstrom, activist Archie Archuleta is grateful to see Robles' proposal move forward.
"I think it's a good point, I think it's a good start, and I think it brings the argument to a level of solution-finding rather than preventive findings -- anything to change the direction of what we consider legislation that is not good for people," he said.
"Luz (Robles) should be congratulated."
Archuleta hopes the bill spurs constructive discussion on the issue, but in the end believes it is not up to Utah to move immigration reform forward.
"I see it as a delaying tactic," he said, "but the real solution, that has to be federal."