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Idaho Senate passes resolution to call for federal immigration reform

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Idaho Senate passes resolution to call for federal immigration reform

Feb 20, 2024 | 7:05 pm ET
By Kyle Pfannenstiel
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Idaho Senate passes resolution to call for federal immigration reform
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The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The Idaho Senate widely passed a resolution Tuesday that calls for federal immigration reform.

Senate Joint Memorial No. 102 calls for “targeted, common sense, business-focused, market-driven immigration reform,” saying Congress and the U.S. president “have failed to provide a secure border.” 

“The catastrophic failure at the border is a catastrophic failure of the federal government. As those of who study the Constitution know, it is the requirement for the federal government to protect us at the federal border. And they failed to do it ” said Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, who co-sponsored the resolution with Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon.

The resolution calls for not granting amnesty to people currently in the U.S. without legal status.

The resolution says immigration reform must also include: Security “that incorporates modern technology to prevent, deter, detect, and detain those who seek to enter the United States by unlawful means.” And a guest worker program that meets “labor needs and demands of year-round” markets like agriculture, food processing and construction. 

The Idaho Senate passed the resolution Tuesday on a 30-4 vote.

Sen. Glenneda Zuiderveld, R-Twin Falls, was one of three Idaho senators in the Idaho Freedom Caucus to vote against the resolution. She said stronger action is needed. 

“Our priority should be closing the borders,” Zuiderveld said. 

Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Viola, also opposed the resolution. Foreman, who isn’t a member of the Idaho Freedom Caucus, said he’d rather see work to protect Idaho from the after-effects of illegal immigration, like enforcing laws against hiring people who aren’t in the U.S. legally.

“We need to honor our state by honoring our laws and doing what we can to send a message that if you want to come to Idaho, you’re welcome. But come here legally,” Foreman said. 

A report presented to Idaho lawmakers Monday says Idaho’s undocumented population has remained around 35,000 people, KTVB reported.

“We have a very stable unauthorized workforce in Idaho,” Idaho Dairymen’s Association CEO Rick Naerebout said, according to KTVB. “You take them out of the equation. And I don’t know where you find 30,000 workers to come fill those jobs in this state.”

The resolution now heads to the Idaho House for consideration.