Just as it happened two years ago, the battle over immigration will end up in the heart of Utah County.
The Utah County Republican Party will consider adopting The Utah Compact as a part of its official position when it meets this spring and immigration restrictionists are already making plans to try to keep that from happening.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, has signed on as a co-sponsor to introduce it at the party’s meeting in May. He said it was important for Republicans to work toward solutions embodied in The Utah Compact.
"It is important to support a set of principles that will guide the debate nationally as we did in Utah," Bramble said. "It is a way for Republicans to take a principled approach to deal with the realities we face today with immigration."
Utah County was the epicenter of the immigration fight in the state when it led the charge in fighting against HB116 — part of a package of bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in 2011. That law, which isn’t scheduled to take effect until July, drew strong opposition as it sought to allow the state to issue work permits to those living in the state without proper documents. It required the illegal immigrants to pay fines and submit to background checks.
But as President Obama laid out his plan for comprehensive reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country and Congress showing movement toward reforms, lawmakers in Utah will discuss whether to pull out the trigger date of HB116, delay its start date or possibly let it go into effect.
The fervor against HB116 — which was the legislative outgrowth of The Utah Compact — was led by Keri Witte, who managed to get a repeal resolution passed against the law at the state Republican Party convention as well as the Utah County GOP Convention. She said the new pitch to make The Utah Compact the official party position was wrong-headed.
"The current platform we have addresses legal and illegal immigration," Witte said. "So it’s quite nicely balanced."
She said there are other versions that include an acknowledgement to The Utah Compact but still retain the current platform which stands firmly against illegal immigration and places an emphasis on securing the border.
The proposals would be made at the March 23 County Central Committee meeting. If any version passes through there, it would go to the county convention on May 4.
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