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Utah Establishes Guest Worker Program

April 17, 2011
Plain English Version

The state of Utah is creating a guest worker program. It is the first state to recognize undocumented workers. The law allows illegal immigrant laborers to work legally in the state.

Under the law, Utah would issue a two-year work permit to illegal immigrants who could prove that they had been living and working in the state. To qualify, immigrants would have to pass a criminal background check and pay fines of up to $2,500.

Business and farm groups supported the guest worker program. Many advocates for immigrants also supported the law. The Mormon Church did not oppose it.

Under federal law, an employer cannot knowingly hire an illegal immigrant. The governor of Utah will have to get a waiver from the federal government for the new program. If he does not get the waiver by 2013, the law would go into effect anyway.

In November 2010, important groups wrote the “Utah Compact.” The document said the interests of the business community shouldinfluence immigration policy. The Compact was against separating families by deportation. It was signed by the Salt Lake Chamber, a statewide business group; the Roman Catholic Church; the Salt Lake City Police Department and mayor’s office; and local immigration advocate groups.

National immigration advocacy groups said, the law stands for the idea that settled workers should be brought into the system.

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