September 15, 2006


Immigrants turn Utah into mini-melting pot (Jeffrey D. Allred, 9/15/06, USA TODAY)

Marriage and kids: They're the pillars of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which dominates many facets of life in Utah. But diversity?

Immigration is changing the complexion of communities across the USA. As it sweeps through Utah, traditionally one of the least diverse and most conservative states in the nation, its impact is particularly dramatic. About 98% white until 1970, Utah is becoming a mini-melting pot.

While conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing to tighten borders and make illegal immigrants felons, factors unique to Utah are attracting Hispanics to this reddest of red states. Among them: the Mormon church's philosophy of outreach and its embrace of large families.

These influences have helped give the state a reputation of being warm and welcoming to immigrants. Utah allows the undocumented to drive legally with a "driving privilege card." They can attend public colleges and universities and pay in-state tuition. Minorities — mostly Hispanics — make up 16.5% of the population, up from 8.8% in 1990. They could reach 20% by 2010. Hispanics are driving the growth among minorities here. The state's black and Asian populations also are growing but more slowly.

The changes are visible — and audible. Sounds of up to 70 languages reverberate in school hallways, cantinas are sprouting in the suburbs, and Spanish-speaking religious congregations are multiplying — scenes that are more Los Angeles and Miami than Salt Lake City.

"Word has gotten out that it's a place where immigrants are welcome," five-term Utah Republican Rep. Chris Cannon says.

Utahans in 2004 gave President Bush his biggest margin over Democrat John Kerry in any state — 72% to 26%. How can one of America's most conservative places be so receptive to immigrants?

Obviously the shared values make the GOP and immigrants natural allies. The big question is: how much longer can the Democrats afford to support mass immigration of people who are at odds with their political/social stances and so much more fertile than seculars?

Hispanic lawmakers question absence of immigration in new Dem agenda (Alexander Bolton, 9/14/06, The Hill)

House Democratic leaders passed around to colleagues Tuesday a plan they would focus on if their party wins control of the lower chamber on Election Day, but although the document was drafted to achieve consensus, it has already angered Democratic Hispanic leaders.

The cause of the consternation is not something the Democrats included in the agenda. Instead, it’s something lacking: any mention of immigration. While Republican candidates around the country are trying to make immigration one of the biggest issues of this fall’s elections, Democrats appear to be tiptoeing around it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2006 8:24 AM
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