Some big-name Utah Republican legislators joined in a letter Tuesday urging the state’s congressional delegation to pass immigration reform this year — and said broad support for such action exists in the GOP.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, House Majority Leader Brad Dee and 23 other GOP legislators — joined by former U.S. Senator Jake Garn — signed the letter.
"The current system is broken, and the United States cannot wait any longer to fix it," the letter said.
"The system is broken for business owners who are unable to grow their businesses due to workforce shortages," it said.
"The system is broken for farmers who are producing below their capacity when they cannot meet their labor demands. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, labor shortages in the agriculture industry are causing a loss of over $3 billion in gross domestic product and over $1 billion in farm income."
The letter added, "There is also broad support, including Republican voters" for reform, saying a recent poll showed that 71 percent of tea party members who vote in GOP primaries believe it "is important to pass reform this year."
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year. The House has said it prefers to pass smaller, incremental bills, but has not done so.
Sen. Orrin Hatch supported the Senate measure, Sen. Mike Lee did not. None of Utah’s four House members has supported a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants already in the country illegally.
The defeat this month of House Majority Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a GOP primary by a conservative who attacked him for favoring immigration reform has chilled debate on the issue.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.