Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: As summer concludes, Utahns face national, state issues

As summer wanes, Utahns face national and state issues. We have opinions on all of them.

Is America turning more anti-immigrant, and what are the ramifications?

Pignanelli: ”We should erect a wall of brass around the country for the exclusion of Catholics.” — Chief Justice John Jay

Bless Donald Trump — he may be the accidental spokesperson for our state. His behavior on immigration is providing the important contrast of the “Trump Way” and the “Utah Way.”

Several years ago, our state leaders crafted a balanced immigration approach that received accolades across the country. This is because Americans, whether their ancestors arrived on the Mayflower or in less glamorous circumstances (like my family), possess a complicated but commonsensical view of immigration. Polls indicate we are concerned with mass immigration (despite the benefits), but our pragmatic and compassionate souls desire a path of citizenship for the hardworking undocumented. There are problems associated with new entrants (i.e. the criminal activity of which my ethnic heritage excelled), but nothing warms our collective hearts as much as when people of various colored hues take the oath of citizenship.

The perception of anti-immigrant emotion is increasing because the loudest voice on the issue emanates from Trump. Soon, shrewd presidential contenders will counter his rhetoric with elements of the Utah solution, which will be well received. Americans understand that newcomers from all over — who seek liberty and opportunity — are a fundamental element of the energy and entrepreneurial spirit that make this country great.

Webb: Turning against immigration is a certain path to political loss, along with cultural, social and economic decline. What’s happening in the Republican Party is simply tragic. Instead of embracing Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, Republican candidates should look to the Utah Compact for guidance on immigration. The Compact emphasizes humane treatment of illegal immigrants, keeping families together and economics.

I recently spent a few days at Jackson Lake Lodge in Teton National Park. One of the guides there said lodge employees are recruited from all over the world because they can’t find enough young Americans to work. Trump and other retrograde thinkers would have you believe that immigrants are taking away American jobs. That’s simply not true. The agriculture and hospitality industries face worker shortages.

Trump has, unfortunately, provided cover for the immigrant-haters, many of whom are struggling with life themselves. They target immigrants as convenient scapegoats. In reality, immigrants will help them, not hurt them.

Utah Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz will soon release their big public lands proposal. Can it pass Congress and be signed by the president?

Pignanelli: Years ago I actually practiced law, especially in domestic relations. I learned quickly that when my client and his/her soon-to-be ex-spouse objected strenuously to the details of a settlement proposal, we were on the right track. Environmental groups have been extremely participatory and helpful, but still have some reservations with the lands proposal. But when I witnessed conservative Rep. Michael Noelthrash Chaffetz and Bishop staff for their efforts, my experience suggested a potential legitimate compromise.

These congressmen certainly have the juice to get the bill through the House. But facing them is a calendar filled with a host of issues that may prevent anything in the near future accomplished in the U.S. Senate.

Webb: Bishop and Chaffetz are demonstrating the right way to make public lands policy, in contrast to the possibility of President Obama unilaterally imposing a national monument by executive edict. Their years-long process has been bottom-up, involving all stakeholders, with innumerable meetings and negotiating sessions and a lot of time spent out on the land.

If Obama imposes a national monument, it will expose as a lie all his rhetoric about open, transparent, collaborative government.

The Bishop/Chaffetz proposal won’t make everyone happy. Everyone has to compromise a little. And the extremes on both sides will moan and groan. I say ignore the extremes. Ignore the chronically complaining Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Ignore those who think the state can magically wrest all BLM and Forest Service land from the federal government.

This may be the most important public lands initiative in the history of the state. It will mean a lot more protected land for conservation purposes, and a lot more energy development. Utah’s business, political and conservation leaders ought to get behind this proposal.

Will Joe Biden really take on Hillary Clinton?

Pignanelli: In a "friendly" wager (which is allowed in Utah law), I bet Biden drags this out for months. The emails controversy surrounding Clinton is unlikely to end anytime soon, and he could have a late opportunity. "Uncle Joe" speaks his mind without a script, has not economically benefited from public service and has a warm demeanor. He could do well.

Webb: I’d love to see the Democrats face additional drama in their nomination process. My guess is that Biden will carefully consider running, but will ultimately say no — unless the Clinton scandals really start to damage her. Clinton has a big head start. Biden is old and prone to gaffes. But he could beat Trump.