In calling for Congress to stop stalling, posturing and kowtowing and get on with overhauling the nation's immigration system, Lane Beattie went a little far.
There is no precedent and, by most readings of the Constitution, no legal mechanism for the voters of any state to recall the people they have duly elected to the U.S. Senate. So Tuesday, when Beattie, president of the Salt Lake Chamber, was suggesting that Utah's two U.S. senators be recalled and replaced by people who understand the urgency of the issue, it was the frustration talking.
But the frustration is understandable. And growing. Among advocates for the poor and downtrodden and among representatives of the rich and well-heeled.
Speaking for the latter, at a gathering of leaders of eight local chambers of commerce from around Utah, Beattie and his colleagues were hoping that their joint appearance would amount to what they called a "show of force" that would motivate Utah's congressional delegation to get behind a comprehensive immigration proposal that is reportedly being developed among a self-selected, bipartisan group of senators.
The assemblage was a reaction to the fact that late last month, just as the immigration reform train appeared to be gathering steam, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah were among six senators, all Republicans, who signed a letter calling for a significant pause in the process. The dissenting group is asking for a delay perhaps years so that whatever reform package comes before the Senate can be properly turned over, dissected and reassembled.
It would make sense for most senators who aren't involved in what's called the Gang of 8 negotiations to withhold their judgment until they have actually seen what deal is struck. And that, in response to Beattie's remarks, is what Hatch and Lee said Tuesday that they are doing.
If so, then it is possible that Beattie's show has already forced a change. Because wanting to see a bill before showing support is much more reasonable than the message Lee and Hatch sent in March, which was that they don't want to see any action on immigration reform for months, or years.
As businessmen, Beattie and his counterparts at the chambers of commerce in seven other communities know how important it is to offer a product when the market demands it not too soon and not too late. The results of the last election, with Hispanic voters showing such overwhelming support for Democrats, has moved many to reasonably believe that the time for marketing comprehensive immigration reform border security, a path to legal residency and provisions for skilled and guest workers is now.