The latest on Utah’s immigration legislation

In a surprising turn of events, the Utah state legislature passed a series of fairly centrist, immigrant-friendly bills that were signed into law by Republican Governor Gary Herbert. These include a guest-worker program and a guest worker parternship with the Mexican state of Nuevo Laredo. Most notably, these bills don’t call for a massive deportation of all undocumented residents, nor do they call for police to check the legal status of anyone they suspect in the country illegally. (Police are to check only if the individual is arrested on serious felony charges).

I’ve written previously about how when controlling for partisanship, Mormons have more liberal immigration policy preferences than other religious groups. In other words, even Mormon Republicans have less conservative immigration views, on average, than other Republicans in the United States. Also, this research study shows that Mormons are most likely to “follow the leader” and adopt the political policy preferences of the Church leadership when 1) there is an official endorsement of the policy by the leaders (which came only last year), and 2) when there is internal agreement among those leaders (which has been developing gradually over the past several years). Both conditions appear to be met on the case of immigration policy, and thus it makes sense that this was the result. As the Utah legislature is one of the most conservative in the country, however, I just didn’t expect that it would actually happen!

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