Letter to the Editor: The Missouri Solution
Recently I read an interesting article with the intriguing title of "There are no illegal aliens in Missouri." While the debate rages between the enforcement only and amnesty only factions of the illegal alien issue and while Utah became the nation's first "sanctuary state" the people of the "show me" state have "shown us" the way with a common sense, economic, and effective approach...they simply pulled in the "welcome mat" and "slammed the door" in the faces of illegal aliens (Missouri SB858).
How you may ask, well while we in Utah felt it was important to have an official handgun, Missouri declared, through a constitutional amendment, that English was its official language and passed laws requiring all government activity to be conducted only in English and that no individual had a right to demand government services in any other language. In other words all state applications, licensing exams, documents, and pamphlets are produced in English only...if you can't read and understand English that's your problem.
Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens are not eligible for state or local public benefits so while Utah pondered how best to provide these benefits to illegal aliens, Missouri passed laws stating that applicants for benefits shall provide proof of citizenship, residency, or lawful presence in order to receive benefits.
While Utah debated punishment for public employees who exposed illegal aliens applying for public benefits, Missouri passed a law that bared government entities, political subdivisions, and government officials from interfering with any communication with the federal government regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any individual and which says that the state shall not fund government entities, agencies, or political subdivisions that have policies that would interfere with such communications.
While Utah proudly became the nation's first state to offer a special class of driver's licenses for illegal aliens, Missouri's Department of Revenue was ordered not to issue any driver's licenses to illegal aliens nor to persons who cannot prove lawful presence and that a driver's license issued to an illegal alien in another state shall not be honored by the state of Missouri and the Department of Revenue for any purpose.
While the question of enforcing Federal immigration law was politicized in Utah, the Missouri Highway Patrol entered into a memorandum of understanding with the federal government to have members trained to enforce federal immigration laws and are required, along with other law enforcement officials in the state, to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be in Missouri illegally.
While the chief of police of Salt Lake City and the Utah Attorney General balked at enforcing immigration laws, virtually giving illegal aliens sanctuary, Missouri municipalities were barred from adopting policies designed to give aliens sanctuary when they are present in violation of federal immigration laws. Those municipalities that adopt sanctuary policies are ineligible for any grants provided by the state.
While the Utah legislature debated how much to charge illegal aliens attending Utah state funded colleges and universities, Missouri barred illegal aliens from enrolling in all public universities in the state and those institutions were required to annually certify that they have not knowingly enrolled any aliens unlawfully present in United States in the preceding year.
While Utah passed a cynical, flawed, and virtually toothless "Guest Worker" law, Missouri employers were barred from employing illegal aliens period. Violators are subject to the suspension of their business permits and licenses or exemptions. In order to correct the violation and have permits and licenses reinstated, the employers need to terminate the employment of the alien or request a second verification of the alien's status from the federal government, sign a sworn affidavit stating that the violation has ended, and submit documentation confirming the entity is enrolled in a federal work authorization program.
Violators who were under contract with the state were to have their contracts voided and are barred from contracting with the state for three years. Subsequent violations result in a void contract and a permanent bar from contracting with the state.
Missouri did all these things and, the last time I checked, still exists... there is still produce in its grocery stores, lawns are still being mowed, gardens are still tended, fast food is still being served, and hotel rooms are still being cleaned and their beds still being made up. In short all "the jobs Americans won't do" are being done in Missouri. In addition, tourists still visit Missouri.
Whether or not there really are "no" illegal aliens in Missouri I can't say but it seems to me that the approach Missouri is taking, making Missouri an environment which is decidedly illegal alien unfriendly is an economic, common sense approach to the illegal alien problem that works.
I believe Utah should adopt similar policies and, like Missouri, "pull in the welcome mat" and "slam the door" in the faces of potential illegal aliens contemplating entering Utah and give those already here "strong inducements" to leave Utah voluntarily for more illegal alien friendly states.
Governor Herbert abandon your support of the cynical and flawed "Guest Worker" law, support its repeal and support a proactive, logical approach such as Missouri's for resolving the horrific problem created by illegal aliens in Utah.