Millions spent in Utah state prison for illegal immigrants.

Utah illegal immigration issue in the works                                                                                                                                   by MCKENZIE DEAN

With the issue of illegal immigration vastly growing, Utah is taking action to make a better situation out of a sticky one for every person that resides in the Beehive State.

As of most recent, Bloomberg Business Week, reported in its Feb. 23 issue, the state of Utah spends eight million dollars a year to keep nearly 300 illegal immigrants in prison. In addition, the state spends $55 million on undocumented children’s education.

Like Utah, the rest of America continues to pay costs associated with illegal immigration, as courts and the federal government continue to wrestle with the issue.

In 1994, Congress’ established the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With good intentions, the government established a trilateral trade bloc among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since its creation, some critics argue, NAFTA has backfired and developed into a large contributor towards illegal immigration.

“Ninety percent of trade that happened through the agreement were drugs. In addition, it lowered the amount of patrolling between the borders, allowing many undocumented people to come to the U.S,” said Scott Haskell, West Jordan Utah Police force. “It is an agreement that backfired on us and has been a large contributor towards the mass amount of illegal immigrants living in America currently.”

That in mind, the government allowed more than intended to effect America and the issue of illegal immigration to vastly grow.

Here within the state of Utah, it has been an issue that has caught national attention. A Utah law in which police were required to verify immigration status of victims of a felony, is actually violating the United States Constitution.

“Racial Profiling is committed too much and we need to allow it not to happen,” said Salt Lake City Chief Chris Burbank. “A different tone needs to be set.”

Simply asking undocumented immigrants for personal information interferes with how the government pursues its priorities in federal law enforcement.

With the knowledge that there is no way to completely stop illegal immigration, there are numerous ways the judicial system can improve the situation, some say.

“Working to become legal is the biggest and best step that immigrants can do. The ability to earn a work visa will also prevent enforcement issues from continuing as much as they do,” said Rick Marshall, Nye County, Nev., Assistant Sheriff.

Nye County, which is located in rural Nevada, has taken positive steps toward addressing illegal immigration.

A woman in the county had entered the United States illegally.  While she was growing up, her parents worked to gain legal status. She had earned her work visa, become a U.S citizen and later graduated from the Nye County Police Academy to join the Nye County Sheriff’s police force with Marshall.

Situations like these are what need to occur more often. People are not aware of their right and things to do in order to gain citizenship, noted Marshall.

“There is definitely a need for more understanding towards every citizen here,” Burbank said. “It would be a failure of our system if we allow a person to become victimized without their own understanding of what is to be justifiably right.”