Provo Mayor John Curtis, the Republican candidate for Utah’s vacant congressional seat, has removed two campaign ads posted on Facebook — one exhorting Congress to “build the wall” and the other calling to “stop sanctuary cities.”
The messages on immigration were quickly attacked as hostile and Trump-like while Curtis suggested his “team underestimated how contentious” the rhetoric was.
Tuesday, Curtis participated in Ethics Awareness Week at Utah Valley University, where his scheduled topic was “Cultivating Positive Dialogue in Public Discourse.”
The cost to run the ads — which are part of a series that also includes posts about tax reform — is not included on the mayor’s most recent financial disclosure, and Laub declined to say how much the campaign spent on the digital messages.
The Salt Lake Tribune saw and verified the ads through several screenshots shared online.
In his 500-word reaction to the subsequent criticisms, Curtis included his platform for immigration reform. He proposed securing the border between the United States and Mexico while more strictly enforcing the law.
“If the best idea to protect our country is a wall then I will wholeheartedly support it,” he wrote.
Curtis also recommended penalizing undocumented immigrants who come to the United States and commit multiple or serious crimes, assimilating individuals to “become loyal, productive Americans” and giving people a chance “to get right with the law.” None of those items, he said, should amount to amnesty.
Additionally, as he has in the past, the mayor condemned sanctuary cities — places where municipal governments have pledged limited cooperation with federal authorities on enforcing immigration policies — saying they are “an extreme.”
“If we were to look at a continuum, we would see sanctuary cities on one end flanked by rounding up illegals and sending them back on buses on the other side,” he added. “Neither is the right approach.”
Provo was considered a sanctuary city when Curtis took office eight years ago, he said, but that designation has since been lifted.
Many commenters responding to Curtis’ public post said they were “disappointed” by the mayor’s ads. A few called the mayor “insensitive” and said they no longer planned to vote for him. Some said they appreciated his acknowledgement that the messages were problematic.
Bennett argued that a wall on America’s southern border “would be wildly expensive, hugely impractical and do little or nothing to actually prevent illegal immigration.”
“On the campaign trail, John has tried to distance himself from President Trump, but with this ad, he’s embracing one of the president’s most extreme proposals,” he said.
The mayor, at 54 percent, also towered over Bennett, son of the late three-term Sen. Bob Bennett, who fetched 6 percent in the mid-September survey.