The debates continue as Utah and other states consider adopting a new immigration bill similar to that in Arizona which is scheduled to go into effect July 29. Utah State University Political Science professor William Furlong, who is considered to be a Latin American specialist, says the debates are not dealing with the real facts but rather with emotions.”We deal with attitudes that, in a lot of ways, resemble the attitudes that I witnessed when I was in Florida in the 1960s during the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act,” Furlong says. “We saw people making statements and saying that this was going to bring down the country, this was going to ruin the country, it would destroy us economically, socially, politically. In reality it made us a lot stronger and a much better country.” While they admit that the federal government should be responsible for immigration, supporters of the Arizona immigration law say the federal government has failed to perform its constitutional duty. Therefore, they believe it is the people’s right to protect themselves.Furlong says the Bush administration came up with a good immigration law in 2006-2007 but members of the president’s own Republican party failed to support it.”They didn’t like it because they thought it was too liberal,” Furlong said. “If you’re going to get bi-partisan law out of Congress you’re going to need some liberal elements to it and you’re going to have to have some conservative elements to it.”But right now, with emotions running as high as they are, I don’t see any chance of the federal government dealing rationally and in an apolitical fashion with immigration reform and immigration law. The emotions are just running too high, the hate, the anger, the disinformation, the incorrect information that’s out there.”On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Monday, Furlong said if Democrats and Republicans worked together they could come up with an immigration reform law that wold be good for the whole country.Furlong also said a comprehensive study has been completed by the Deseret News that shows that a lot of what is being said is not fact, but is actually fiction. An example, Furlong cited, is the statement that Latinos caused about half of local drug crime. In reality, the study showed, they caused 27 percent which is less than expected given they account for 28 percent of the Salt Lake City population. The study did not single out who was here illegally.
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