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How Will Immigration Law Change in Utah? - Liberty Law

Utah, with the passage of law H.B. 116 in March 2011, has proposed a fundamental change in its immigration laws. However, the law is very controversial and may not have an actual impact unless approved by the federal government.

The changes in the laws reflect a document known as the “Utah Compact.” Essentially, this calls for an immigration policy that is compassionate, acknowledges that immigration laws have profound impact upon families, and says that police resources should be primarily focused on deterring criminal activity, not enforcing immigration laws. This compact has broad support from theUtahbusiness community, the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, and the Mormon Church.

The most controversial provision of the law is that which allows illegal immigrants a pathway to legal residency. As the law is written,Utahmay issue a Guest Worker Permit to an undocumented individual either currently living or working in the state. A background check would be initially required, and other conditions must be met by the individual. After two years, the immigrant may then apply for legal residency, or a renewal of the permit.

However, the state of Utah cannot unilaterally pass legislation that affects immigration; immigration is a federal issue under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. Only if the federal government should agree to a waiver of some of its sole authority over immigration would this law take effect.

With that understanding, the law’s implementation has been delayed until at least 2013.  Immigration issues are complex and best understood through a consultation with an experienced Salt Lake City immigration attorney. Call today for a free case evaluation.