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By Former Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson
August 19, 2011

On November 11, 2010, a coalition of business, religious, non-profit, and political officials in Utah issued a resolution called "The Utah Compact,"[1] which offered a list of principles to consider when dealing with illegal immigration. The Compact would have been of little interest outside Utah except that its authors promoted it as a model for other state legislatures and a "template" for the nation.

Since the unveiling of the Utah Compact 10 months ago, additional states have considered similar compacts and, last Spring, efforts were underway on several fronts to bring the Compact to the national stage. In March of this year, the L.A. Times reported that "backers of the Utah Compact are meeting with business and political leaders in other states to try to create a national version of [the] document."[2] An April 9, 2011, article in the Washington Post stated that Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, "is working with Utah officials to create a national version of the plan that could be announced as early as this summer."[3] A few days later, President Obama discussed the Compact at a meeting in the White House.[4] If the Utah Compact was designed as a template, it would be wise to know something about its principle architects and supporters.

Twenty-one people signed on to the Compact as chief sponsors in a carefully scripted media event where they ceremoniously mimicked the signing of the Mayflower Compact and the U.S. Constitution. One of the most crucial things to know about these signers is their one-sided point of view. Compact signers have worked hard to foster the illusion that the Compact resulted from gathering input from all sides of the immigration debate. The Salt Lake Tribune stated that the Utah Compact "was endorsed by a broad range of Utah religious, business and community leaders"[5] and that it "has united a diverse element of Utah's population."[6] Rev. Steven Klemz, one of the principle signers, asserted that "the Compact was authored by a diverse range of voices, including political, business, law enforcement and religious leaders."[7]

But was the Utah Compact really supported by such a broad range of thinkers? Three signers represent the Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopalian Churches, all of which support amnesty:

Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese
Rev. Steven Klemz, Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Salt Lake
Right Rev. Bishop Scott Hayashi, Episcopal Church in Utah

In addition to his duties as the Bishop of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, Wester is also Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration. The Catholic position on illegal immigration is found in a Church treatise called, "Strangers No Longer":[8]

"Catholic teaching has a long and rich tradition in defending the right to migrate ... the sovereignty of the state, although it must be respected, cannot be exaggerated to the point that access to this land is ... denied to needy and decent people from other nations ...."

The treatise then goes on to call for "a broad legalization program of the undocumented" and urges Congress to "enact a legalization program for immigrants."

Wester has openly opposed attempts by individual states to implement restrictive illegal immigration laws. When Arizona passed a mild enforcement bill (SB1070) in 2010, Wester called it a "draconian law."[9] He was so afraid of SB1070 that he issued a statement expressing his concern that "other states will attempt to create and enforce immigration law"[10] and urged Congress to "enact comprehensive immigration reform [i.e. amnesty] as soon as possible."[11]

Pastor Klemz is an outspoken advocate for the Lutheran Church position that "undocumented persons who have been in this country for a specified amount of time [should] be able to adjust their legal status."[12] Adjust their legal status? Cute, but still amnesty. In January, 2011, Klemz told a reporter for Salt Lake's Deseret News that, "We believe that we need to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and provide them with an earned pathway to permanent residency."[13] Finally, as if his church's position on illegal immigration wasn't enough reason for him to support amnesty, in 2002 Klemz married an illegal alien. [14]

The third representative of Utah's religious community who signed the Utah Compact is the Right Reverend Scott B. Hayashi, Episcopal Bishop of Utah. Episcopal Church policy supports comprehensive immigration reform, "which will allow millions of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States ... to have a pathway to legalization ...."[15] Hayashi has worked closely with Bishop Wester and Pastor Klemz to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform ­ i.e., amnesty.

So, all three churches and all three of these Utah religious leaders who sponsored the Utah Compact favor amnesty. No diversity there.


All of the business leaders and most, if not all, of the elected officials among the 21 signers of the Utah Compact also support amnesty. Although each is listed as a representative of a different organization or elective office, they actually have a dizzying array of overlapping and interconnected alliances through a cross-network of business affiliations. Five of the signers sit on the Board of Governors of the pro-amnesty Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce (Mayors Becker, Clyde, and Coroon, United Way's Deborah Bayle, and Jeff Edwards, of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah). Three signers (Chamber of Commerce CEO Beattie, and Mayors Becker and Coroon) are members of the Partnership for a New American Economy, whose mission is to tout the "economic benefits of sensible immigration reform."[16]

Wes Curtis, Utah Center for Rural Life, Jeff Edwards, and Mayors Becker, Clyde, Coroon, and Godfrey are involved with Envision Utah, a coalition of real estate developers and environmentalists promoting "sustainable" communities ­ an explosive issue in and of itself. Finally, Beattie, Becker, Coroon, Curtis, Godfrey, and Edwards all share memberships in the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, a capitol investment public/private partnership which supports amnesty. The largest contingent (8) of Utah Compact signers represent investment and land development organizations which all support legalization of illegal immigrants. No diversity of thought on immigration from THOSE signers.

What about the signers of the Utah Compact who represent nonprofit organizations? Perhaps they are the "diverse" voices among the compact signers? The aforementioned Deborah Bayle, of the pro-amnesty United Way, is herself an amnesty proponent. Bayle has a history of opposing legislative attempts to reduce illegal immigration. Karen Crompton (Voices for Utah Children) has long advocated for amnesty for illegal aliens. Finally, the Sutherland Institute, one of the principle organizers of the effort to create the Utah Compact, is a free-market, Libertarian-style think tank that also supports amnesty. In an interview earlier this year, Sutherland's Executive Director, Paul Mero rudely demonized opponents of amnesty when he called them "wingnuts who see every brown person as a criminal."[17]

The business, religious, and non-profit leaders who signed onto the Utah Compact all support amnesty, and the elected officials among the 21 seem to either support amnesty outright or to be window dressing to provide a conservative glow to the Compact. The two newspaper publishers who signed the Compact (Dan Singleton, publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune and Mark H. Willes, publisher of the Deseret News) are pro-amnesty. I am hard-pressed to find any diversity of thought on the subject of illegal immigration among the principle signers of the Utah Compact. Nor does one find any admission in their news releases about the Compact that they support amnesty. Instead, they hid behind an array of impressive titles and tried to pass themselves off as a broad coalition, implying that they held a variety of viewpoints on illegal immigration and that the Utah Compact was some sort of happy compromise by all sides. Former Utah Governor Olene Walker burbled that, in producing the Utah Compact, "People from all different walks of life have come together."[18] Yes, Ms. Walker, different walks of life ­ but one point of view. The signers apparently hoped to fool thee public into believing that they represented both sides of the immigration debate when, in fact, they did not.

Of course, one may choose any position he likes on the subject of illegal immigration. It's still a free country (sort of). But it's deceptive to try to pass one's self off as a member of a diverse coalition when the Utah Compact coalition is not diverse at all. One should at least have the integrity to argue one's position openly and honestly.

Cloaked in the dignity of high elected office, glowing with the exalted status of prominent professional people and wealthy business executives, and then sanctified by the blessing of three different religious denominations, the Utah Compact defies opposition. It's authors even wrapped it up in patriotism by likening it to the Mayflower Compact and announcing it on the anniversary of the signing of that founding document. But all the costuming cannot hide the fact that the Utah Compact is a deception and a fraud. It's clever, for sure, but strip off the layers of camouflage and what remains is a bold attempt by amnesty advocates to foist comprehensive immigration reform on an unsuspecting public.

A month after the Compact was presented to the public, one signer, Wes Curtis, was arrested in a prostitution sting,[19] and a month later pled guilty to the charges.[20] While the action of one does not sully the reputations of all, it does demonstrate that, despite their elevated status, these people are nevertheless mere mortals, subject to all the weaknesses and temptations that exist for any of us. They can be as wrong on an issue as anyone, despite their prominence.

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Suffering near apoplexy over the passage of SB1070 in Arizona and the growing national movement to pass similar bills in other states, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce rallied business groups, churches, and other like-minded organizations to devise a plan to head off any SB1070-type bills that might arise in state legislatures and buy time for Congress to pass amnesty. Pretending that the 'Utah Solution" was something new, unique, and more compassionate than previous attempts at immigration reform, they put it in a pretty new package, slapped a brand-new label on it, and took it on tour, trying to foist it off on other states and Congress. But despite the new packaging, it's still all about amnesty. And the vaunted diversity of the Utah Compact is a sham.


1. The Utah Compact home page.
2. Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2011, "Utah Bucks Conservative Trend on Illegal Immigration."
3. Washington Post, April 9, 2011, "In Effort To Change Tone of Immigration Debate, Groups Turn to Utah," by Josh Loftin.
4. Salt Lake Tribune, April 20, 2011, "Utah's Wester Attends White House Immigration Meeting,"
5. Ibid [Link]
6. Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 12, 2010, "Utah Compact Makes Compassionate Sense,"
7. Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 2011, "HB497 Violates Utah Compact."
8. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope," Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, issued January 22, 2003,
9. U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, April 27, 2010, "USCCB Migration Chairman Joins Arizona Bishops in Decrying Anti-Immigrant Measure, Calls for Comprehensive Reform."
10. Ibid
11. Ibid
12. Lutheran Church Position on Illegal Aliens, Adopted by the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on November 16, 1998.
13. Deseret News, January 24, 2011, "Utah Activists, Religious Leaders Ask Lawmakers to Push for Federal Immigration Reform."
14. 14Salt Lake Tribune, June 30, 2009, "Utah Faith Leaders Urge Repeal of SB81."
15. Episcopal Church, 76th General Convention, 2009, Anaheim, California, July 8-17, Resolution B0006.
16. Partnership for a New American Economy, "About Us."
17. 17Washington Post, March 11, 2011, "The Utah Way Toward Immigration Reform."
18. KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, November 11, 2010 - 9:50 p.m.
19. Deseret News, December 12, 2010, "Arrested in Prostitution Sting."
20. Deseret News, January 24, 2011, "Southern Utah University VP Pleads Guilty to Patronizing a Prostitute."

� 2011 Karen Johnson - All Rights Reserved

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Karen Johnson served in the Arizona legislature for 12 years, from 1997 through 2004 (AZ House of Representatives) and 2005 - 2008 (AZ Senate). Her all-time favorite committee assignment was chairing the Federal Mandates and States' Rights Committee. During her service in the legislature, she supported the Second Amendment, individual, property and of course states rights, as well as the Right to Life, and she still does. Karen and her husband, Jerry, have 11 children and 35 grandchildren. She believes strongly in the doctrine of liberty and does not desire to be tethered to ANY particular party.











Since the unveiling of the Utah Compact 10 months ago, additional states have considered similar compacts and, last Spring, efforts were underway on several fronts to bring the Compact to the national stage.