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Lehi • Utah County Republicans on Saturday rejected an attempt to insert Utah Compact wording into their platform.
Delegates then endorsed compromise language that leaders say is nicer to Latinos than current wording, but is still tough on undocumented immigrants.
The county party's central committee first voted 95-179 to dump a move backed by such people as House Speaker Becky Lockhart to replace current platform immigration language with the Utah Compact. Delegates then voted 169-71 to adopt the compromise language. The full county GOP convention in May also would need to approve it by a two-thirds vote before it is added formally to the county platform.
While the compact opposes policies that "unnecessarily separate families," the adopted compromise language say that "parents have a responsibility to act lawfully so their children are not negatively impacted."
In another contrast, the compact calls for law enforcement to focus on crimes, not civil violations of code which include crossing borders without papers. The compromise language instead calls for supporting rule of law, and calls for a system that "does not favor those who come here illegally over those who seek to come here lawfully."
Delegates also voted 117-115 to keep some tougher platform language that the compromise also had attempted to delete. It says, "Taxpayers should not be covering state benefits for illegal aliens."
Lockhart, in arguing for adding the Utah Compact language, told delegates, "Fear, anger, hatred, suspicion and confusion will not create solutions.... We need a platform that includes broad and inclusive principles."
But Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, disagreed and opposed the Utah Compact language saying, "Our platform should not be bipartisan. We should be putting into our platform what works for us."
Former Provo City Council member Sherrie Hall Everett, however, said the Utah Compact language would help change a negative perception of the party nationally.
"Public perception of the party is at a record low," Everett said. "Young voters are rolling their eyes at what our party represents.... We have a responsibility to change that."
Similarly, delegate Roger Gonzalez said, "How many Hispanics do you see here today?" Few were there.
"We not going to be able to progress as a party" without reaching out more to Latinos, he said.
Delegate David Christensen opposed the compact language saying "the compact argues we should have compassion on illegal immigrants. I believe it is most compassionate to address the needs of those who desire to come here legally … by closing the borders to illegal immigrants and then fixing our system to allow for more legal immigration."
Despite losing the move to adopt the Utah Compact language, Lockhart said the compromise language adopted was an improvement over the current platform language.
Agreeing was Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who also had preferred compact wording. But he praised compromise language that said, "We support a human approach to reconciling the status of illegal immigrants that respects both justice and compassion."
He said, "That is the biggest challenge we face as a state and a nation."