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Utah Conservatives and Business Leaders Step Up Pressure for Immigration Reform

Andrea Smardon
Steve Klemz, Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Salt Lake City calls for immigration reform along with business, technology, law enforcement and political leaders at the Utah State Capitol.

Conservatives and community leaders from the Mountain West issued a joint letter today urging the US House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration legislation before the congressional session ends.

At a press conference at the Utah Capitol, faith, technology, business and law enforcement leaders all called for meaningful immigration reform. They were joined by Paul Mero of the conservative think tank Sutherland Institute.

“The House of Representatives in DC - I think the Republican conservatives are having a difficult time with this issue, and it probably is well for them that the reddest of red states and the most conservative of public policy principles in this state supports comprehensive immigration reform,” Mero says. “They need to hear that.”

Mero says federal legislation should be modeled after the laws passed in Utah – emphasizing legal status for undocumented immigrants, not necessarily citizenship. Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie says Utah’s Representatives in the House could do more to push this issue forward.

“The Senate has acted thanks to Senator Hatch and his leadership there,” Beattie says. “We think that if we can have some of our House members step up, we can have the same kind of leadership there, that would make a difference.”

Immigration reform advocates and community leaders from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico have signed the same letter. Beattie says, together congressional representatives from the Mountain West could be influential.

“If they all got together, there would be 38 of them, that’s a pretty good caucus, to go sit down with leadership and plead with them to get something done,” Beattie says.

The letter comes one day after U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue joked that the GOP shouldn’t even field a presidential candidate in 2016 unless Congress passes immigration reform this year.

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