With immigration reform still being held up in the U.S. House of Representatives, Summit County Council member Dave Ure wants to send a message that something must be done on the issue on the federal level. Ure has helped to draft a County Council resolution supporting immigration reform and declaring June "Immigrant Heritage Month."
To view the resolution, click here.
"It's basically saying, 'Congress, get in gear and do something for us,'" Ure said. "There's a strong national push to try to get Congress to do something that's why we're doing it, to try to show a strong coalition from everybody."
Immigration reform is an issue that Ure said he has been passionate about for the last 10 to 12 years, especially during his time as the 53rd District representative in the Utah State Legislature. He said he has heard from many business owners in the county, as well as undocumented immigrants, that reform is sorely needed.
Congress and the president are currently deadlocked over immigration reform legislation.
Obama says there is bipartisan support for immigration reform but House Speaker John Boehner maintains that Congress would not accept the comprehensive bill passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate last year, Reuters reported.
Ure said he has heard mainly from business owners in the restaurant, agricultural and ski industry about the importance of addressing immigration. He said businesses like those are having a difficult time recruiting immigrants, who fear they will be deported.
"Many of those people are still in the community and are very active, and even though they're not citizens, they've lived here most of their lives and have to live in the shadows 99 percent of the time," Ure said.
Creating an easier, more streamlined way for immigrants to obtain a green card or permanent residency should be a crucial part of immigration reform, Ure said. That way, more undocumented immigrants can work in the United States and pay taxes, hospital bills and educational expenses.
"Unless that happens, our medical field and our school systems are going to keep getting beat up," Ure said, explaining that when an undocumented immigrant goes to the emergency room, those costs are shifted to taxpayers. "It's a two-[edged] sword having people come here having the proper credentials is also a protection for society."
Ure said that the state's row crop and cherry harvests were down last year because there were not enough agricultural laborers. He said farmers should be allowed to bring on immigrants without fear of being reported or their workers deported.
The Council's resolution does not lay out specific policy initiatives for immigration reform. Ure stressed that he is not in favor of granting undocumented immigrants amnesty. He added that he saw a survey that showed 60-70 percent of undocumented immigrants want citizenship but not legalization, as many wish to return to their home countries.
"They want to live, work and be a good steward here and go back to their homeland," Ure said. "If there was a will, [Congress] could resolve it in 15 minutes."
The Summit County Council will vote on the resolution calling on Congress to pass immigration reform at next Wednesday's meeting. For an agenda, visit summitcounty.org.