AS ARIZONA’S lawyers prepare to enter more federal courtrooms to defend SB1070, the state’s new law against illegal immigrants and the harshest of its kind, the other 49 states are watching for clues. But SB1070, partially blocked by a federal judge, looks decreasingly likely to become a model. That may come instead from a neighbouring state. “I want to have a Utah solution; we are not Arizona,” says Gary Herbert, Utah’s governor. And he thinks Utah is close to finding one.
Utah might seem very similar to Arizona. Historically, both once belonged to Mexico, then to the cowboy West. Demographically, both are very white, with significant Latino populations. Politically, both are conservative—a recent Gallup poll found Utah to be the most Republican state in the country. Both have nativists who dislike migrants and occasionally forget to distinguish between illegal and merely brown. And both have Republican governors who stepped into office because their predecessors got better jobs from Barack Obama, and who both now have to win re-election on their own terms.
So it was not surprising that a Utah state representative, Stephen Sandstrom, started working on similar legislation as soon as Arizona passed SB1070 in April. Mr Sandstrom, hitherto obscure, instantly became a darling of right-wing groups, including Utah’s Minutemen. But Mr Sandstrom ran into strong opposition from an interesting quarter.
That was Chris Burbank, the police chief of Salt Lake City, a liberal island by Utah standards. Mr Burbank has been railing at any attempt to make cops enforce immigration laws. He considers this racist, because the police would have to consider ethnicity (he laughs at claims that this could be avoided) and dangerous because Latinos, as crime witnesses or victims, would stop co-operating with the police. This has taken some courage. Mr Burbank has been getting bags of hate mail calling him a “spic lover”, “traitor” and worse. He has received a picture of a noose.
这个人就是盐湖城警察局局长克里斯.伯班克(Chris Burbank)。盐湖城在犹他州内算是一处开明自由之地，因此任何想让警察执行移民法律的努力都会让克里斯.伯班克(Chris Burbank)牢骚满腹。他认为这是种族歧视的表现，因为警察在执法时不得不考虑一个人的种族成分(对于警察可以避免去这样做的说法，他一笑了之)同时他认为这种做法也是危险的，因为拉丁裔美国人在成为犯罪目击证人和受害者时一直拒绝和警方合作。但这样做是需要勇气的。伯班克(Burbank)经常收到恐吓信，信里把他称作 “喜欢西班牙裔美国人的家伙”， “叛徒”甚至更糟糕的称呼都有。他还收到过套索绳子的照片。
Thus the debate deteriorated. It reached its nadir when two women working for Utah’s main welfare agency stole the names, addresses, Social Security numbers—and even the due dates of expectant mothers—of some 1,300 mostly Latino people whom they suspected of being in Utah illegally. They sent this list to government officials and also, last month, to newspapers, with a ranting letter urging immediate deportation of all 1,300. Those on the list now live in fear.
Ironically, however, the list changed the debate for the better. Almost all of Utah’s political elite, Mr Sandstrom included, were thoroughly embarrassed by it. The attorney-general, Mark Shurtleff, may bring criminal charges against the women who compiled it. Governor Herbert convened a round table on immigration demanding “respectful dialogue”.
One of those at the table, Tony Yapias, Utah’s most prominent Latino activist, thinks it helped that almost everybody at the table was Republican. They realised that the onus is upon them, as the governing party, to elevate the debate, he says.
犹他州最著名的拉丁裔活动家托尼.亚皮尔斯(Tony Yapias)也参加了会议。由于参加会议的几乎都是共和党人，所以托尼.亚皮尔斯(Tony Yapias)认为会议更容易进行并取得成果。他说，共和党意识到自己做为管理者有责任解决好这次争端。
It might also have helped that virtually everybody at the table was Mormon. The Arizona state senator who sponsored SB1070, Russell Pearce, is also Mormon, which has led to speculation that this is why the Mormon Church has not yet expressed a moral opinion on the matter. But as Mormons, many of Utah’s politicians have either been in Latin America as missionaries in their youth or have loved ones who were. Mr Herbert’s son has been to Puerto Rico. Mr Sandstrom once proselytised in Venezuela and says he even has a permanent-residency permit there (through a fluke of paperwork). He once sponsored a Venezuelan family to come to America legally.
In this more civil conversation, an idea by Mr Shurtleff, the attorney-general, has been gaining favour (although he, too, is getting bags of hate mail for it). Mr Shurtleff proposes an arrangement between Utah and individual Mexican states such as Nuevo Leon, in the north-east. Employers in Utah could request workers and the Mexican authorities would screen applicants. Utah would issue these Mexicans a guest-worker card similar to the driving permits it already gives illegal immigrants. It would separate “the work line from the immigration line,” says Mr Shurtleff.
He calls this the “Golden Spike initiative”, which is emotionally potent. It reminds Utahns of the transcontinental railroad, completed in Utah with a golden spike in 1869. What the Chinese and Irish labourers were then, Mr Shurtleff implies, Mexicans are today.
The irony in his proposal is that such a guest-worker programme would necessarily encroach upon a federal prerogative. The workers would still have to cross an international border, so the feds would have to carve out an exception for Utah, which might lead to 49 other exceptions. Avoiding just such a “patchwork” is officially the reason the Obama administration is suing Arizona over SB1070.
Paired with a state enforcement law better written than SB1070, however, such an approach might amount to a compelling compromise. Mr Sandstrom, for his part, says he is “undeterred” by last week’s federal court decision to suspend parts of SB1070 and will next week unveil an improved bill for Utah. He is sceptical about a guest-worker programme with just one or two Mexican states, but open to it.
In January Utah’s legislature will reconvene. By that time, thinks Mr Herbert, it is quite possible that Utah’s Republicans will have reached sufficient consensus for a “hybrid between worker permits and Arizona-style enforcement”. And that might be the model for the rest of America.