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Lee opposed, Hatch open to immigration compromise

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This group was involved in the creation of the Utah Compact in 2010, which fought against state-based enforcement legislation in favor of a federal reform. And on Wednesday, they said the time is ripe in part because of the last presidential election, where Obama received 71 percent of the Latino vote.

"It has been my party, Republicans and conservatives, who killed this effort last time," Shurtleff said. "We can no longer let those shrill voices be the voices of the Republican Party."

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Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie recently blasted Hatch and Lee for signing a letter demanding a lengthy legislative process with numerous hearings, suggesting it might be time to replace them.

Hatch did sign that letter in late March and almost immediately backed away from it, saying even before Beattie’s criticisms that what he wants is for the bill to follow normal congressional procedures.

The bill is going through normal procedures. Hearings are slated for Friday and Monday and the committee will debate amendments to the bill throughout May. Lee still considers the process rushed and warned that doing so could lead to unintended consequences.

Beattie took a more conciliatory tone Wednesday, saying he has been in conversation with the senators’ staffs and understands they are engaged in the issue. But he also said it’s the job of reform supporters to keep the pressure on Utah’s congressional delegation, none of whom have supported comprehensive reform.

"This is the time to step forward and help us as a community and certainly as a state to move this thing forward," he said.

But many Republicans in Utah remain unconvinced the nation should support an immigration bill that doesn’t require people here illegally to leave before reentering through regular channels.

Former state Rep. Carl Wimmer said he would oppose the compromise and hopes that Utah’s federal lawmakers do too.

"For adults who chose to come here illegally and take advantage of the welfare system of this country, I’m not a fan of any time of legal status or pathway to citizenship," he said.

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Twitter: @mattcanham

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