Skip to comments.Immigration reform makes for divisive debate in Utah. Chris Cannon's district.
Posted on 04/19/2004 3:58:03 PM PDT by Missouri
Immigration reform makes for divisive debate
By Kirsten Stewart The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah Republican Congressman Chris Cannon met his two GOP challengers in a debate on Saturday where, once again, immigration reform proved to be the most polarizing issue in the 2004 election race.
Cannon and former state Rep. Matt Throckmorton, who have each complained of being unfairly attacked by the other for "special-interest-driven" or "racist" views on immigration, kept the debate cordial. But the topic took up most of the allotted hour, drew the most vigorous applause and set otherwise closely ideologically aligned candidates apart from one another.
"It was a remarkable debate," said Cannon who was reluctant at first to participate. "Reaching delegates is what this is all about. And some crazy things have been said that need addressing."
Saturday's event was the first, and probably the last, time that Cannon will square off with opponents before the May 8 state convention, where roughly 1,000 delegates will decide whether the four-term congressman will be forced into a Republican primary.
Some of those delegates -- about 200 and hailing mostly from Utah County -- were present for the sound-off.
All three, including Salt Lake City attorney Greg Hawkins, applauded President Bush's tax breaks while opposing federal education mandates under the administration's No Child Left Behind Act and provisions in the Patriot Act that threaten to erode Americans' civil rights.
Differences of opinion were rare. But when it came to immigration, the only shared message was: S omething needs to done to stop illegals from crossing the nation's borders and draining its educational and healthcare resources.
Cannon believes the best way to get a handle on the problem is to encourage illegal aliens "to come out of the shadows."
The federal government can't efficiently manage the flow of legal immigrants, much less find and deport an estimated 12 million undocumented workers if "we don't know who they are," he said, defending his proposed legislation that would allow farmworkers here illegally to obtain legal status.
Throckmorton, on the other hand, believes the best way to slow immigration is to take away the incentives for coming here in the first place.
"Ninety percent of those who come to this country want to go home, but the system encourages them to stay," by giving them "amnesty" and college tuition breaks, he said.
Hawkins said both his opponents are wrong. He agrees that something needs to be done to better track and help those already in America contribute to society, but called Cannon's legislation another "half-baked" example of "corporate welfare
What? If they want to go home, or be home, why in the world are they here in the first place? I'm sorry, Sir, but that statement just doesn't pass the smell test.
Hawkings got that one right.