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Rolly: Utah County GOP to debate change to immigration platform


| Tribune Columnist

First Published Mar 21 2013 06:39 pm • Last Updated Mar 22 2013 07:24 am

As state and national Republicans try to reach out to Latinos and other minorities before the next election cycle, the Utah County GOP will consider dueling amendment proposals Saturday that reflect the party’s deep divide on immigration reform.

The Utah County GOP Central Committee will be asked to vote on a proposal supported by state Sen. Curt Bramble and House Speaker Becky Lockhart that would replace current party platform language on illegal immigration with the Utah Compact.

At a glance

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A competing amendment, pushed by some party officers and members of the party’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee, has what its sponsors believe is compromise language between the party’s current platform position and the Utah Compact.

The current position stresses national security and the rule of law, urging the strict enforcement of federal immigration laws and making sure taxpayers don’t cover state benefits for undocumented immigrants.

The Utah Compact, signed by business, government and political leaders and endorsed by the LDS Church, stresses federal enforcement of criminal violations but not necessarily civil violations and encourages policies that do not unnecessarily separate families.

It also champions policies that improve the health, education and well-being "of all Utah children."

For example, if Republican legislators vote for appropriations bills to fund education and health care programs, they are at odds with the current Republican platform statement because current law requires the state to educate and treat in hospital emergency rooms all children, regardless of citizenship status.

The compromise, which some party insiders hope will derail the Utah Compact amendment, supports a "humane approach to reconciling the status of illegal immigrants that respects both justice and compassion, does not reward illegal behavior and does not create incentives for future illegal immigration."

Either platform amendment requires a two-thirds vote of approval in the Central Committee and a majority of the delegates at the convention later this year, where the battle is expected to be repeated.

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Hear no evil » Utah’s newly elected Congressman Chris Stewart has quickly taken up the Republican Party talking points bashing President Barack Obama for defunding constituent tours of the White House and taking too many vacations.

So it’s interesting that Stewart, who claims he wants to hear constituent concerns, does not list any site in Salt Lake County among the eight town hall meetings he has scheduled over the next two weeks.

His congressional website lists the schedule that includes Sanpete County, Sevier County, Washington County, Iron County, Davis County, Tooele County, Beaver County and Millard County.

But not Salt Lake County, which comprises a significant portion of his 2nd Congressional District.

Maybe he just doesn’t want to hear those constituents’ concerns about his comments questioning the science behind man-made global warmings, especially since they’re the ones who bore the brunt of this winter’s dirty air.

Besides, there are a lot of liberals in Salt Lake County.

Tit for tat » If Stewart is going to ignore Salt Lake County when he conducts town hall meetings, maybe it’s just as well that Gov. Gary Herbert ignores him.

On Herbert’s webpage, there is information about how to contact key people in his administration, other state offices and, of course, Utah’s congressional delegation.

He lists the two senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Reps. Rob Bishop, Jim Matheson and Jason Chaffetz.

But no Chris Stewart.

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