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Governor's immigration roundtable aims to find common ground



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The Utah Immigration Roundtable Discussion takes place Tuesday at the Utah Senate Building from 10 a.m. to noon. It also will be streaming online at ksl.com.SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Gary Herbert has called for a roundtable discussion on one of the thorniest problems facing the country: immigration.

The governor invited 30 community leaders to the roundtable discussion, set for Tuesday. Those invited to participate include lawmakers, law enforcement officials, church and minority group leaders, and even business leaders. KSL Newsradio's Doug Wright also is invited. Limited public seating will be available.


"By bringing together all these people, maybe they'll find their differences aren't as polarizing as they thought." Angie Welling, Utah Governor's Office

Herbert's spokeswoman, Angie Welling, says the governor's goal in organizing a gathering of differing points of view is to take a more diplomatic approach.

"By bringing together all these people, maybe they'll find their differences aren't as polarizing as they thought," Welling said. "By having a real, thoughtful discussion maybe you'll see you can agree on the majority of it, and now we have this room to work."

A final list of exactly who gets to speak during the two-hour meeting hasn't been released, but many of those invited have strong feelings about immigration.

On one side is Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, who has repeatedly said he plans to move forward with an immigration bill similar to Arizona's, which allows law enforcement officers to ask for citizenship status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

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On the other side of the table is Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who has suggested implementing a state-sanctioned guest worker program and potentially a path to citizenship.

As a starting point, Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, says it's important that people feel free to having different ideas.

"The governor has been very open in looking at different ideas, and that's setting the tone for a good discussion and hopefully the communities as well," Robles said.

Still, the immigration issue evokes strong feelings on both sides of the table, so it's likely this discussion could be a very intense one. We've heard lawmakers say however, that a discussion like this needs to take place sooner than later, and that it's a step in the right direction.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be represented at the meeting. Monday it released a statement that calls for civility on the issue.

The Utah Immigration Roundtable Discussion takes place at the Utah Senate Building Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. It also will be streaming online at www.utah.gov/governor.

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Story compiled with information from Richard Piatt, Shara Park and Randall Jeppesen.

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