Conservative Think Tank …

Salt Lake City, UT – The Sutherland Institute, Utah’s leading conservative think tank, released its position on immigration in a statement and an essay, Onus or Opportunity? Conservatism and Illegal Immigration in Utah on May 5, 2008.  These publications present an authentic conservative position that embraces comprehensive immigration reform.

“We have noticed that there is an implicit assumption that all ‘conservative’ remedies to the issue of illegal immigration are framed by a strict law-and-order approach,” testified President Paul T. Mero, as Sutherland’s first public statement on the issue made during the 2008 legislative session in support of Immigration Task Force (SB 97).  “As much as we have heard about the importance of the rule of law, and it is vital, there are several other conservative principles of good government that must be given priority.”

In addition to more closely examining all aspects of this issue, Sutherland recommends that Utah public policy assimilate otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants already living here with the following policy recommendations:

1. Request a federal waiver permitting Utahns to explicitly address illegal immigration in a manner that preserves families, builds communities, and creates productive citizens
2. Create an in-state work permit.
3. Focus public education on our most needy students.
4. Establish a broad network of authentic charity care clinics.
5. Coordinate private outreach to strengthen faith and family relationships among illegal families.
6. Coordinate public/private efforts to teach the full scope of citizenship.
7. Lobby our state’s congressional delegation to support more humane legal immigration policies.

“It is time for authentic conservatives to step forward and accept responsibility to address this issue in principled terms, as opportunity not onus,” Mero concluded.

Full text of the essay: 
Executive summary:
Position statement:

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About Sutherland
The Sutherland Institute is a conservative public policy think tank committed to shaping Utah law and policy based on a core set of governing principles.  The Institute strives to make Utah an example of good government for the rest of the nation and a great place to live, work, and raise a family.  Additional information about Sutherland can be found at

Facts from the Essay
•    67% of all adult Utahns are married; 69% of all adult “Hispanic non-citizens” in Utah are married.

•    The average family size in Utah is 4.18 persons; the average family size in Utah of “Hispanic non-citizens” is 4.67 persons.

•    The divorce rate among all adults in Utah is 10.8%; the divorce rate among all adult “Hispanic non-citizens” is 4%.

•    Looking at labor force participation rates in Utah (the “work ethic” factor), “non-citizens” have the highest rate of work participation, 77%; among all Utah adults it is 68%.

•    Between 1995 and 2005, while the Hispanic proportion of Utah’s population grew by 133%, the Index Crime Rate fell by 33%, the Violent Crime Rate fell by 31%, and the Property Crime Rate fell 33%.

•    Likewise, between 2000 and 2005, while the “Hispanic non-citizens” proportion of the population grew by 52%, the Index Crime Rate fell by 8%, the Violent Crime Rate fell by 11%, and the Property Crime Rate fell by 8%.

Quotes from the Essay
“Authentic conservatives view new immigrants as an opportunity to reclaim and renew vital American institutions, while anti-immigration activists view new immigrants as an onus, an insurmountable burden, and an ill-intentioned threat to destroy our American way of life.”

“It is about our neighbors, not south of the border, but now right next door to us – people shopping in our stores, working in our restaurants and on our construction sites, attending our public schools, and, yes, very often finding themselves on our welfare roles and in our jails.  They are as real as we are.”

“A speed limit law is the same genus as an immigration law.  Both are positive laws, meaning they are ‘man-made,’ based upon human judgment, and not moral law.  It is telling, for purposes of this subject, that when honest, law-abiding people exceed the posted speed limit on any American road or highway they do not feel the need to confess their ‘sin’ to clergy or even turn themselves in to authorities.”

“It is at the federal level that border security should be addressed, where immigrant-worker programs should be enhanced, and where federal waivers should be approved allowing states such as Utah to accomplish the harder work of constructive assimilation.”