Photo by Tom Kelly/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Park City, Utah's Deer Valley resort at night, February 2011
The snow sports website OnTheSnow.com published an editorial today praising Utah's state legislature for approving a bill that would grant two-year work permits to undocumented workers, provided they pay fines and can prove they have been living and working in the state.
What's most interesting about the piece is its candor:
Winter and summer tourist promoters feared passage of "Arizona-style" bills that take a hard line on persons living in the United States without proper documentation.
In Utah, as in many tourist states, such immigrants come looking for work and fill essential though menial positions at many resorts, like cleaning rooms.
The piece goes on:
Anyone who stays at a Rocky Mountain winter resort has likely seen the proliferation of Spanish-speaking employees, particularly those from Mexico, in recent years. However, mountain resorts in Utah and elsewhere don't reveal how many undocumented workers are employed in their lodges, restaurants and other facilities - if they even know.
Evidence of their concern, however, was revealed by the intensity with which tourism and farm industries lobbied for passage of bills that would grant some legal status to such workers.
Utah immigration plan could stir legal storm - USA Today As much at it's a departure from the stricter immigration legislation approved in Arizona last year, Utah's newly approved guest worker bill will most likely wind up in federal court also if it becomes law. It was one of two state bills, the other calling for tighter enforcement, that could soon face legal challenges.
Latinos lack job security despite increase in hiring - Fox News Latino A report from the National Council of La Raza finds that while there has been job growth in sectors employing large numbers of Latinos, this population faces greater job insecurity.
Washington Senate Votes Down Driver's License Ban for Undocumented Immigrants - Fox News Latino A bill that would have restricted access to driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and punished identification fraud was voted down Monday in Washington's state senate.
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Student Dream Act supporters react after the Senate vote tally is read, December 18, 2010
This week, some undocumented students, graduates and others are expected to reprise the actions of other student activists last year with a risky move: going public with their immigration status.
The strategy gained popularity last year among young supporters of the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would have granted conditional legal status to qualifying young people who attend college or join the military. The measure cleared the House last December, but failed to make it through the Senate.
This year, several Dream Act advocacy groups and websites have been promoting what's being called "National Coming Out of the Shadows" week between March 14-21, kicking off with a "coming out" day this Thursday, March 10. Sites like DreamActivist.org have been seeking coming-out stories via Twitter and posting them. From one posted today:
Photo by jphilipg/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Construction signs, August 2008
Last Friday, Utah became the first state to pass its own guest-worker bill, and one of two states lately to weigh anti-illegal immigration legislation that makes a work-related exception for undocumented immigrants.
Late last month, a Texas state representative otherwise known for her tough-on-illegal immigration attitude introduced a bill that would punish employers who hire unauthorized workers with jail time and up to $10,000 in fines, but makes an exception for those who hire maids, gardeners and other domestic workers. And the bill that cleared both legislative houses Friday night in Utah - part of a broader immigration package that includes tougher enforcement - would provide a two-year work permit to undocumented immigrants who could prove they had been living and working in Utah. In order to qualify, they would have to pass a criminal background check and pay fines.