SALT LAKE CITY - Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is pushing for the passage of a major immigration reform bill set to be unveiled to the U.S. Congress this week.
Shurtleff plans to testify before Congress in support of the bill proposed by the "Gang of Eight," a bipartisan group of U.S. senators who are working on a bill that would secure nation's borders.
"I absolutely encourage our delegation to get behind a comprehensive, common-sense, pragmatic, fair, just, compassionate, truly unique American reform, which can be done. And I think the American people demand it," Shurtleff told FOX 13 on Tuesday.
The proposed legislation has some aspects that supporters say are similar to the Utah Compact, a set of guiding principles for immigration law signed by state political and religious leaders back in 2010.
It declared illegal immigration a federal problem but says families shouldn't be split apart. The compact also wants people who are in the United States illegally to only be arrested for crimes, not immigration status.
"Frankly, Utah could lay a large part of the claim to the fact that we are now, in 2013, looking at a bipartisan, comprehensive, pragmatic, common sense immigration reform," Shurtleff said.
The federal immigration proposal includes a pathway to citizenship with fees and waiting periods and tougher border control. Shurtleff has been pushing for Utah's legislators to support the bill, but some are more enthusiastic than others.