Are those tea cups rattlin?

Dallas Morning News, October 28, 2011

By Gabriel Escobar / Editorial Writer

Mark Shurtleff, the attorney general in Utah and a Republican, is a law and order man with a crisp and catchy motto: Protecting Utah, Protecting You. But on the subject of immigration, you don’t get what you might expect.

He doesn’t like the enforcement-only philosophy espoused by many in his party. He also opposes the local immigration laws passed in Georgia, Alabama and perhaps in the near future a neighborhood near you (and not a Minuteman too soon for my many fans out there). That’s a job for the feds, says the AG.

He’s not soft. Securing the border is number one on a list of five Shurtleff keys to immigration reform. But it’s his humane view of the illegal immigrant–that would be Key #3–that really sets him apart from the tea partiers and the GOP presidential candidates cozying up to their table.

“The root of the illegal immigration problem is economic. People come to this country and remain illegally in order to feed their families,” Shurtleff said in blog posting last year. “In doing so they work hard and do jobs that are essential to our economy. Any sustainable solution needs to address the needs of industry. Public policy that ignores economics is not sustainable. Creating economic incentives for industry and immigrants to do the right and legal thing is a sustainable ”

(Now this is also roughly the position of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but since that august group is keeping it sort of secret these days, on account of all the GOP strife over immigration, let’s not say it too loudly.)

His contrarian activism led to the Mountain West Immigration Summit, which he hosted this week. In his opening remarks, he told the gathered to ignore all those who blame economic woes on illegal immigrants. “What they are doing with enforcement only,” he said without naming names such as or own Lamar Smith, “is hurting this country and tearing us further apart.”

The heresy doesn’t end there. It turns out that the Quixotic Shurtleff is the driving force behind the Utah Compact, an intelligent, sane and reasonable approach to immigration that of course stands no chance of going anywhere anytime soon. Like the keys above, the compact has five points and again includes a possibly fatal humanistic view of those sin papeles.

“Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.”

What is this man thinking?

Does he not bend to the shifting winds?

Can he not hear the tea cups rattling?

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