Utah’s embrace: no documents, no problem
Amid the country’s caustic immigration debate, this may be the closest thing these days to an immigrant paradise.
Utah is the most Republican state in the country. But the state’s more than 95,000 undocumented immigrants can legally drive with a “driving privilege card” created last year. They can go to any public university or community college and pay in-state tuition.
Many of the state’s otherwise conservative lawmakers are major players nationally in pushing for a more open immigration policy. In 2003, no less a conservative stalwart than Sen. Orrin Hatch sponsored the Dream Act, a bill that would have removed federal penalties for states that want to give illegal immigrants a college tuition break.
“Politically and philosophically, I’m a conservative,” said Marco Diaz, chairman of the Utah Republican Hispanic Assembly. “We can be conservative and still be compassionate.
“It’s not just a slogan in Utah,” he said.
Efforts rooted in faith
But it is a paradox. Political observers seeking to explain the state’s unusual embrace of immigrants point to a variety of factors, many involving the state’s