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Published March 22, 2013 1:01 am

Hatch and Lee stand in the way
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It is a choice politicians often have to make. Do they want to reach a solution? Or do they want to hang on to a problem?

Most other people, of course, prefer the solution. But, in politics, practitioners can find that they benefit more by avoiding a resolution for as long as possible. Indefinitely prolonging the debate can help both office-holders and interest groups draw attention, and donations, from people who are worried that the outcome might not go their way.

Sadly, that appears to be what is happening with Utah's two U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Just as elected officials from all points along the political spectrum may finally be coalescing around comprehensive reforms of the nation's broken immigration laws, one that may include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who live and work among us, Lee and Hatch are calling for a halt.

The two are among six Republican senators who have formally asked Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to hold up his plan to consider comprehensive immigration reform as soon as next month.

This proposed roadblock is unneeded, unwise and, with luck, will go unheeded.

Democrats — led by President Obama — and Republicans — prodded by rising stars Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — seem to be approaching the critical political mass needed to stop kicking this political football around and really come up with a new set of laws and rules that will deal with the issue as it is, not as some may wish it was. With ambitious Republicans such as Paul and Rubio now standing for a solution that could include a path to legal status, if not citizenship, for millions of human beings who have been part of our economy and our communities for a very long time, a resolution may be within our grasp.

But not if Lee, Hatch and the four other Republican senators who are seeking a delay have their way.

What's particularly troubling is that the contrarian senators' letter suggests following the path of the last round of immigration reforms. That process involved three years of debate, more than enough time to sow discord among political leaders who are near to agreement and complicate matters enough to make sure they can never be resolved.

This argument has been going on for years. True leaders of both parties are tired of the head-banging and want a solution. So do most Americans.

If Lee, Hatch and the few other dead-enders who are with them cannot provide some real leadership on this issue, they should just get out of the way.




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