National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Utah Compact and AZ Recall Election Show Mounting Support for Immigration Solutions

November 10, 2011

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Washington, D.C.— Newly elected Arizona state senator Jerry Lewis joined business and law enforcement leaders from across the country in a press conference to celebrate a growing national recognition about the need for practical and fair federal solutions to our flawed immigration laws.


Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the signing of The Utah Compact, a statement of principles meant to address with moderation and fairness the challenges of illegal immigration. The Compact is endorsed by Utah business, law-enforcement, political and religious leaders and its call for a balanced approach to immigration was a “key spark” in recall efforts in Arizona.


In a historic recall election in Arizona, Jerry Lewis defeated Russell Pearce, the architect behind Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB1070. Lewis defeated Pearce with a decisive margin of 53% to 43% thanks in part to his strong support for a reasonable and civil dialogue on immigration.


Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff stated, “As Utah’s chief law enforcement official and as a Republican, I support a balanced and solutions-oriented approach to our immigration challenges. I strongly encourage Congress to do the same, to stop pandering to extreme harsh rhetoric on the right and work across party lines to get real reform done.” He added, “In Utah, conservative Republicans thought that tough, deportation-only proposals were politically popular but the Arizona recall election shows that not everyone in the Republican Party supports this fear mongering approach. There are in fact responsible Republicans standing up for pragmatic reform.”


“Our campaign strategy of developing a reasonable dialogue on immigration served me well in this election,” said Jerry Lewis, newly elected Republican Arizona state senator. “The Utah Compact had a tremendous influence in the state of Arizona and the recent recall election. The Compact gave us a set of guiding principles that helped leaders realize that we don’t need knee jerk reactions to immigration.” The state senator pointed to a recent poll in Arizona showing that 78% of Arizonans of all political stripes support a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants as evidence that the American public supports a practical approach to immigration reform.


“Thanks to Russell Pearce and his anti-immigrant agenda, Arizona has been painted as an area of racial extremism but that is not our heritage nor is our history. Senator Lewis’ election sets the record straight and shows a turning point in Arizona politics,” said Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General. “More states should follow Utah’s lead and push forward solutions that are based not on political slogans, but on a real attempt to come together and resolve the illegal immigration challenges in a sensible and fair way. I wish Congress and leaders in Washington will also come up with a practical approach.”


Jason Mathis, Executive Vice President of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce further described the importance of the Compact for shifting the immigration conversation, “The Utah Compact represents our best values as Utahns and Americans and applies those values to the immigration discussion.  It has been rewarding to see it embraced by people across the political spectrum as a framework for finding comprehensive and lasting solutions.”  


I am hopeful that the recall election is a turning point for conservative Republicans like us to understand that we need to move to a civil discourse on immigration reform,” said Republican Mayor Paul Bridges of Uvalda, Georgia. “Without a federal solution the states have taken immigration into their own hands. The laws that individual states are passing are destroying our local economies and tearing families apart. In Georgia, we are already feeling the effects of the tough immigration law. Farmers are very concerned that fields of onions, berries and peaches will be ruined because they can’t find enough skilled workers to harvest their crops.”


Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum, “The Utah Compact opened the door for new voices and leadership from across the country to lead our nation in a better direction on immigrants and America. 25 years after President Reagan’s historic compromise legislation, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, we continue the hard work of creating a new, uncomfortably large coalition where the leadership of business, law enforcement, government and faith, regardless of where we were born, come together to forge a new consensus on immigrants and America.  We must rekindle that spirit of solutions, of dialogue, of compromise to force our federal government to bring our immigration system into the 21st century, serving the interests of America.”




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