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Rep. Chris Stewart Optimistic GOP Will Revisit Immigration Reform, Despite Impasse

Nicole Nixon

Despite stalled negotiations, Rep. Chris Stewart thinks the U.S. House will take up immigration reform in the coming weeks.

The Utah Republican convened a roundtable at the Utah Capitol on Thursday morning with immigration advocates, the Utah Farm Bureau and two Latina state lawmakers.

He said after multiple failed attempts to reach a deal on immigration, House leaders have committed to revisit it “sometime in June.”

“We’ve got a firm commitment from leadership we would do that,” Stewart told reporters after his closed-door meeting. “We’ve been pushing for a long time.”

Stewart said he thinks most Americans want both border security and a solution for the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era policy that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

“I think there’s room there to agree. I really do,” he said. “The president insists on border security, but most Republicans do and a lot of Democrats do as well.”

State Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said it's time for Congress to address the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally who have no legal pathway to citizenship. . 

“We have been at a standstill for far too long,” she said. 

The panel also talked about family separation at the border, an issue that’s received a lot of attention and outrage over the past week. State Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, an immigrant herself, said she hopes Congress will change the new policy of separating parents from children, enacted by the Trump administration earlier in May.

“As a parent, I find that to be inhumane, and I’m hoping our Congressman listened to our concerns,” she said.

Stewart said he thinks it's unnecessary to separate families who cross the border.  

“I think it’s better for everyone if we keep them together as families,” he said, adding “that doesn’t mean that we allow them entry.”

Rep. Stewart was also asked about Ron Mortensen, an immigration hardliner from Utah nominated by President Trump for a top State Department post overseeing refugees. Stewart said he’s heard concerns but wants to learn more about him. Mortensen’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

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