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FOX News "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript: Utah's Work Permit Proposal: A Better Solution to the Illegal Immigration Problem?


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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: If the feds aren't going to do anything, states need to step up. At least that's what our next guest says. And it's about illegal immigration. So what is her plan? Joining us live is Democratic state senator from Utah Luz Robles. Welcome.

STATE SEN. LUZ ROBLES, D-UTAH: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your idea to handle the illegal immigration issue in your state of Utah?

ROBLES: Well, we're trying to find a proactive solution that stays away from a catch and release only enforcement mechanism where we can account for individuals, have them pay taxes, quantify that amount of money they're paying into the system, have them taking English classes, civic classes, more of an integration accountability and public safety mechanism.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it basically -- I don't mean to minimize it, but it's a work permit situation, where you know who's there, the person doesn't have a right to vote but the person pays taxes and you know if the person has a control record or not. Is that essentially what it would be? And you fine somebody who doesn't comply?

ROBLES: Correct. There are those components. It's not an adjusted immigration status. We're taking within the state of Utah we want something in place that accounts for those individuals. Like you said, we will have criminal background checks on all of them, have to pay a processing fee, pay for the whole program itself, have them take English classes, civic classes, and be able to pay taxes.

They're already working. They're here. We know that as a state we have no power to remove them from the country. So we're very frustrated with the federal government for their failure to do something, but we have to do something as a state. We will do something more proactive versus a reactionary approach.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you don't use the word "immigration," you might be better off because that sort of takes it out of the federal area. I mean, then you might have a -- you might have a better shot at it by doing this. Who's opposed to you on this?

ROBLES: Well, I think there's obviously people that feel this is again providing immigration status to individuals. We're not doing that. I think this is a proactive solution. I think this is what the state of Utah feels more comfortable -- it has to do with our culture. We are not here to be separating families, have a catch and release type of legislation like the Arizona type of law.

We're just saying let us do something, federal government. If you're not going to do anything, and obviously it doesn't seem like they're moving toward that direction, let us find a solution that works for us, doesn't hurt our economy, and that's more fiscally responsible.

And we believe a group of individuals, including some conservatives, that is a way to go. We obviously have a petition, and it's individuals that feels undocumented immigrants should be here, but it's not within our state purview or within our jurisdiction to remove those individuals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who are you getting more resistance from, and who's more receptive, the Democratic Party of Utah, or the Republican Party?

ROBLES: You know, I have to say, with regard to the legislature, we just barely released the bill, it's been a working process. We had a lot of conservative groups, religious organizations working with us. We have the Sutherland Institute, considered the most conservative think tank in the state of Utah working with us hand in hand.

I think at this point it's individuals that care, want to find a solution that's not an Arizona type of law. But my colleagues are still debating. This is barely out. We're still having our session in January. We still have time to work this out.

We're willing and open to make changes. This is a different idea, just trying to be proactive, a solution that's different from an enforcement only mechanism.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does the law in Arizona having an impact on you? I mean, are people leaving Utah or -- or actually just doing a pass-through because of Arizona and going on to your state or not? I mean, has your illegal immigration issue grown in the last year?

ROBLES: Yes. I mean, we've seen some increases of migration to the state. We've seen obviously undocumented immigrants. I'm not sure that the Arizona law has an impact. I think it has an impact on all the border states -- I mean all the neighbor states of Arizona, but I'm not sure that we can quantify for that.

That's why this is important. We don't know who these individuals are. We don't know where they live. This will allow us to know who they are, where they live, and why the criminal elements out of our state. We don't want criminals here.

But if they're here already, the ones that are working, providing for their families, the soccer mom taking her kids to school and maybe speeding by five miles an hour, we don't think it's the best approach to put our state funds in detaining individual when homeland security won't remove that person, having them be released again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Only 40 seconds left. Tell me, how is illegal immigration hurting your state?

ROBLES: I think illegal immigration is hurting the entire country in a way of not having an orderly process for the individuals to be here, and at the same time I think they're also contributing to our community.

So I think we need to have a mechanism that could bring both of them together, and make sure we have places where they can, you know, quantify for them, account for them, make sure they're paying into our system, and they can integrate through English classes and civics classes. That's the purpose of the bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: State senator, thank you. And we'll be watching to see what happens when your bill gets voted on eventually. Thank you.

ROBLES: Thank you.

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