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By John Daley
SALT LAKE CITY -- The chairman of the Utah Minuteman Project is drawing criticism for a sharply-worded statement taking direct aim at both church and business groups that are part of the Utah Compact.
A coalition of business, government, community and religious leaders outlined its principles in the Utah Compact on Nov. 11.
The compact states that immigration is a federal policy issue, an opposition to policies unnecessarily separating families, and that limited local police resources should focus on crime not civil violations of federal law.
The Utah Minuteman Project says it rejects the compact.
A statement released by the project on Monday called the signers of the compact "amnesty mongers" and stated they are erasing the distinction between "immigrants" and "illegal aliens."
Chairman on the Utah Minuteman Project, Eli Cawley, said, "I believe in all churches, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the corporations want these illegal aliens here because they both provide cheap labor and they put the derrieres of illegal aliens in the pews. I believe that's their agenda."
Members of the compact sent a statement Monday saying there's "no simple solution" to the immigration issue and called for a "civil, compassionate and constructive" discussion.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which issued a statement in support for the compact, declined comment, but Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the Church's statement speaks for itself.
"It's really uncalled for, from his part, to start calling organizations names. Getting personal about this issue," said Projecto Latino de Utah director Tony Yapias. "I think this is an issue that we, as a community, need to talk about, but let's do it in a civil manner."
Utah Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, also released a statement in response to the compact and his bill, "The Utah Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act" Monday.
"It's not the approach I would take," Sandstrom said. "I would take a more measured approach to the issue, which I have."
Sandstrom said he has every intention to continue with his legislation and that "Thousands of e-mails indicate that the people of Utah are demanding action and are ready for illegal immigration reform."
Utah Minuteman Founder Alex Segura also took exception to Cawley's statement, saying "name calling" should be avoided, though he says he thinks the statement comes from frustration over the issue.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank signed the compact Monday saying, "The five principles of the Compact are reflective of what I believe is the sentiment of a silent majority, certainly in Salt Lake City."