Utah leaders, legislators want movement on immigration reform

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SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. House Republicans, including Utah's delegation, overwhelmingly came down against the proposed immigration overhaul and as Congress reconvenes this week, House Republicans say they're starting over.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has expressed his disappointment with the Senate's immigration bill and called it flawed. In Utah, there's a similar disappointment over what some feel is lost momentum on a critical issue.

"If I were in the House of Representatives, I'd say I'd rather ride the wave than be submerged by it," said Bishop John Wester with the Catholic Diocese of Utah. "I think that the wave of support for comprehensive reform is there."

Among many Latinos there's a feeling of frustration. Patricio Panuncio is a University of Utah student who has personal interest in the immigration debate.

"I think we're focusing not in the right direction. We're not focusing on people; we're focusing on border security and on the visas," Panuncio said.

The frustration may grow political, according to Sociologist Theresa Martinez, highlighting the growing voting power Latinos exhibited in the last election.

"They want to put their head in the sand, they want to play the ostrich," Martinez said. "It's said it lacks vision and it's in complete disagreement with the Utah Compact."

I think into the fall here we will see some immigration bill pass out. If nothing happens and there's no progress, shame on the entire institution.

–Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Among Utah's Congressional delegation there seems to be a more deliberate approach. None are a fan of the Senate bill, but all agree there is a sense that now is the to do something.

"I think into the fall here we will see some immigration bill pass out," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "If nothing happens and there's no progress, shame on the entire institution."

For Rep. Rob Bishop, R- Utah, a rushed bill is a step in the wrong direction.

"If you just pass something to say you passed something, that's the worst thing you can do," Bishop said. "That's what I, deep down inside, feel the Senate did."


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Richard Piatt


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