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Utah reps say immigration reform is a priority, but don't support latest bill

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Jul 1st, 2013 @ 8:03pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate's sweeping immigration reform bill is a no-go for Utah's congressmen.

All four members of Utah's U.S. House delegation voiced concerns about the bill Monday, but all say immigration reform is a priority. Among Utah's congressmen there is near certainty that the Senate's immigration reform bill will not survive in the House.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz said House members have already advanced five separate measures that address issues like border security, visa reform and E-Verify.

All agree the priority moving forward should be border security, but Rep. Rob Bishop is highly critical of the Senate's last minute amendment, calling it sloppy, expensive and ineffective.

Bishop said the House should correct that first.

"No one is going to buy it until you've secured the borders, which is why to me that was the key element about whether the bill would be successful or not," he said. "And on that, the Senate failed. They failed miserably."

Another sticking point is the pathway to citizenship. Rep. Chris Stewart said he does not support the measures outlined in the Senate bill in that frame.

"If illegal immigrants want to become citizens, they should go back to their country of origin and get in line like everyone else," Stewart said.

Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's lone Democrat U.S. congressman, favors tweaking the Senate's bill, perhaps by creating several bills. He said a bipartisan bill is essential, though.

"My concern is leadership of the House wants to do a partisan bill instead," Matheson said. "That's not going to meet the expectations of everyone in this count."

There is some momentum to get immigration done, but the House has a lot of other priorities, including the interest rate on student loans.

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